It used to be that Veteran's Day was a day that I thought of as one set aside to remember all those who died and served in WWI and WWII. After Viet Nam, it seemed the country was loathe to include all who served and died in the Viet Nam Conflict. (Conflict my ass, it was a war to those who were there.) Then I remembered all who served in the Korean conflict, mostly after becoming friends with a man who drank like a fish, and talked about how he had never been so cold as when he was in Korea. We who have not served can never know what sights our veterans have witnessed. We can never understand the quiet courage with which they meet each day, as they try to reconcile memories and the action they have faced. Now we have a new crop of Veterans, again our youngest and bravest.
To all those who have served our country, through peace and war, I thank you, as a citizen and as a Gold Star Mother. Whether we have supported our countries involvement in wars and conflicts, we must give our humble thanks to those who spent time in service to our nation. Let us be proud of our servicemen and women, always.
On April 2, 2007, the issue of Newsweek Magazine featured an article called "Voices of the Fallen". On the front cover you see words written in a serviceman's handwriting.
As Jon Meacham writes,
"The handwriting on this week's cover belongs to Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis L. Youngblood, who was deployed to Iraq in March 2005. The full sentence, from a letter Youngblood wrote his wife, Laura, reads: "I have accepted the fact that any day I'm here could be the day I die"--words that reflect a courageous fatalism about his mission and its possible price. And the day he had contemplated did come, on Thursday, July 21, 2005, when he was killed in action. He was 26 years old."
This Veteran's Day, I remember my son, at rest in Arlington National Cemetary. He did not write such letters to me. I have been told he did leave a last letter to me that he hadn't mailed, but I was never given the letter, as I was not the next of kin. I try to understand why he did not voice these thoughts to me, but then I remember perhaps it was something he would not share with his mother. Perhaps such deep-felt honesty and revelations are more suited to the most important person in his life, his wife. I cherish our last conversation, about three weeks before he died. That I will always have.
I wish more fervently, than anyone who has not lost a child can imagine, it had been me instead. But, I thank you Travis, for your courage, convictions, and humanity, as you fought to save lives, those of your beloved Marines, Iraqi citizens, and even enemy soldiers. Though my tears will not bring you back, I know that some day I will touch your most precious face again. Perhaps I did not fully agree with your reasons for going to Iraq, but I will never undermine your strong beliefs and convictions. God bless you, my son.
Please let us all take time this day to honor our Veterans. For they are worthy.