Monday, November 12, 2018

Thank you, veterans

  A cold north wind chilled the backs of their necks as they waited outside the church. Tired, hungry, and homesick, the soldiers of the 353rd Infantry stood like time-worn statues against the tattered and war-worn buildings of stone. Some of them had dreamed of seeing France one day, but not like this. All they wanted now was a hot meal, a bath, and a good night's sleep in their own beds back home.

  It was November 11th, 1918, and these brave individuals had given their all to defend the freedoms of millions of people they would never meet. Slowly the minutes ticked by and, after what seemed like forever, the moment finally arrived. The Armistice was signed, and on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I, "the war to end all wars," was over.

  "Surely no war would ever again reach this far into the lives of American citizens," they thought. "This has to be the worst of all time." Even President Woodrow Wilson believed this when he proclaimed November 11th to be a holiday in 1919. At first, it was called "Armistice Day" because no one expected to have to endure a war like this again. But, they were mistaken.

  Shortly after Armistice Day was approved by Congress in 1938, our country would, once again, return to France and many other places all over the world to fight for freedom again. This time it was called World War II. It was the largest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen in our nation's history. Following World War II, we sent troops to fight in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East where they still serve today. Although Veterans Day was originally designated to be a celebration of the end of World War I, it has become a celebration of all men and women who have served and are serving our country every day.

  I learned when I was very young to respect veterans and honor them as heroes. Many of them would say that they were just doing their jobs, but their accomplishments amounted to far more than a day's work. You see, heroes don't have to have super powers or amazing abilities. They simply have to put others first. They have to consider other people before they think of themselves.

  I can tell you about veterans I know who have fought in wars. But I can also tell you of veterans who have worked tirelessly to prevent them. I can tell you of veterans who have helped many people in the wake of hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes. I can tell you of veterans who have built roads and bridges, who have explored space and the moon, who have served food, played music, fixed machines, programmed computers, and countless other heroic things. The size of the accomplishment is not what makes a hero. Heroes are made when people serve their family, their friends, and those around them by putting the needs of others ahead of their own.

  So I say, "Thank you!" to all veterans everywhere. Your service has made my world a better place. May God bless you, for you will always be heroes to me.

  About the author: Greg Dungan is a husband, father, and friend working daily to help people strengthen and free their families. He and his wife own and operate Little Village Kids Childcare Center in Fairfield, Ohio.

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