You either are a Veteran, know a Veteran, or at the very least, have met a Veteran. I am married to a Gulf War Vet and my stepdad and father-in-law are both Vietnam War Vets. I don’t often think about them being Vets though. I talk to these three men all the time but I don’t identify with them as Vets. At least not that often. One of the only times I stop and think to myself that these men actually fought in a war, is on Veteran’s Day. These men, whom I love and interact with all the time, whom are a part of my family, actually fought in a war to make sure we are able to live in a free country.
So why is it that I only really take pause to the sacrifices they’ve made for our country when Veteran’s Day comes around? I mean, I am very proud to be married to a Gulf War Vet. I am very proud to know and love two men who served our country in the Vietnam War. I am proud, but I don’t really know what it means to be a Veteran. Or what it’s like to have served in a war. The United States celebrates Veterans on Veteran’s Day, but do we, as individuals, really celebrate them?
I am married to a Gulf War Vet and I don’t identify with him as a Veteran.
Why is that? If I don’t even identify with him as a Vet how can I really honor him and all Veterans for the individual sacrifices they’ve made? The only way I could come up with was to take a moment to actually identify with one who sacrificed themselves for my freedom. To understand. So I sat down with my husband and asked him what it means to him to be a Veteran. This is what he said:
“I feel pride to have served my country. Growing up I heard stories about both my grandfathers serving in World War II and my dad serving in Vietnam. I had the utmost respect for those who served, particularly those who served in a war. Hearing stories from my grandparents and studying history, World War II and Vietnam were very scary times for the United States and most of the world. Knowing this, both my grandpas and my dad signed up on their own to serve and protect this country. Nothing gets my respect more than that. Enlisting into the military was my way of paying that respect back. It also gave me my own sense of honor.”
We all have our ways of honoring Veterans on this day. In that moment listening to my husband’s pride, not only for his own sacrifice, but his pride and respect for Veteran’s before him, I identified with him. This is how I choose to honor our Vets — by taking the time to understand and identify with just one.