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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

If you've read my blog for nearly any time, you know how I feel about the military and especially veterans.
On the shelf behind me are six pictures of combat veterans-a B-24 pilot with 35 completed combat missions who once had an easy ticket home but said he couldn't leave his crew and remained in harms way, a B-17 pilot with 35 completed combat missions that ferried gasoline to Titio's rebels, one of the Band of Brothers who was severely wounded in Bastogne and still limps six decades later, a Marine Corsair pilot that flew close air ground support for the invasion of Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, a Korean War vet who was a demolitions expert and never really came home, and a Vietnam War vet who is known worldwide. I know all these men and they know me by my first name. One picture I don't have, to my deep regret, is one of my Uncle Harold,a gentle man who was a combat infantry Captain in the Battle of the Bulge and went on to Vietnam twenty years later barely escaping a bombing of his Saigon office. I sit here, listening to Norah Jones sing "American Anthem", typing these words, sipping my hot hazelnut coffee in relative peace because of them and those who serve today.
Let me share with you what I try to tell my WWII vet friends. The first vet I told this to (with a borrowed phrase I had heard) was Col. Harry Potter, who Jimmy Doolittle's navigator on the Tokyo Raid in April 1942:
"I am your American son. Before I was born, you and you brothers in arms risked and many times gave up all your tomorrows so I could have today in the greatest country in the world. I owe you a debt that I can never repay. You let me have lunch with you. You let me join your group. You insist I call you by your first name. You mercilessly give me the needle and the barb. You tell me things that I believe you haven't told your family. And at times you call me friend. And all of this is a high compliment for a man like."
I recently wrote that the only acceptable currency for the purchase of liberty is blood. As a born again Christian my liberty from God's rage and hell was the blood of Christ. The price for my living in freedom in America was the blood of all those who served and died before. That is one of the reasons that I am a radical with regards to liberty: to honor that beautiful surrender and express humble gratitutde. To be anything else or less is to spit on the shed blood of those who served and sacrificed.

Make it a point to find at least one veteran today and thank him or her.


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