Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Veteran's Day, 2009

The call to serve. It has no sound, yet I have heard it.
In the whispered retelling of honorable sacrifices made by those who have served before me.

The call to serve has no form, yet I have clearly seen it.

In the eyes of the men and women infinitely more courageous and more driven than most.

The call to serve has no weight, yet I have held it in my hands.
I will commit to carry it close to my heart, until my country is safe,
and the anguish of those less fortunate has been soothed.

The call to serve, is at once invisible and always present,
and for those who choose to answer the call, for their country, for their fellow man, for themselves. It is the most powerful force on earth.

(From "A Global Force for Good", US Navy)

I am proud that I have had the chance to serve my country. No, I did not got to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or any of the other many hot spots around the globe. As a member of the Coast Guard, I did , however, save lives, protect the environment, protect the interests of American fisheries, and helped prevent drugs from reaching the shores of our country. I got to see the joy in the eyes of family when they were reunited with someone after a disaster, and the heartache and tears when they did not. I stood tall in my dress uniform sailing into foreign countries, and got down and dirty cleaning the ship's decks. I fought fires, learned how to steer a boat that was longer than a football field, and could plot a course using only the stars and a clear horizon. I laughed alongside airmen, stood tall next to soldiers, and swore at Navy sailors. At times I felt I could do no wrong. Other times it seemed like I couldn't do anything right. I grew up, gained confidence and learned how to lead others. I was prepared to go to war, but helped maintain the peace so we did not.

My story is unique, yet it is not. Every service member, whether they served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard has a story to tell. Each one is different, but each one will tell of struggles, triumphs, and a deep-seated pride to having served. So I ask, on this Veteran's day, put aside your political feelings and find a veteran to thank. Thank them for being prepared, thank them for their willingness to give their time, thank them for preparing to die, if necessary, so that you may continue to enjoy your freedoms that we really do take for granted. For a service member it is not an easy job, but one that we are proud to have done.

There are many ways to thank a veteran. Give them a hug. Give them a call. You probably know at least one. Most of us will blush at the thanks, but we really do appreciate it. One way that some businesses have decided to show their appreciation is by offering free meals or other items on or near Veteran's Day to those who have served. To thank those establishments, I wanted to try to list as many as I can here.

Applebee's (Wednesday, Nov 11th, selected menu, All locations)
Golden Corral (Monday Nov 16th, Free meal All Locations)
McCormick And Schmick's (Sunday Nov 8th, Free meal, Selected locations)
Knott's Berry Farm (Nov 1-24, Free admission plus one guest free)
Colonial Williamsburg (Nov 6-11 Free Admission to veterans and dependents)

I will update this as we get closer to the time and I hear of more restaurants honoring veterans! Please let me know if you hear of any restaurants, stores, or other places honoring veterans on (or around) Veteran's Day.

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

Lee Greenwood "Proud to be an American"