Average, Ordinary, Great American Heroes
If you are reading this then I want you to take a moment to ponder the title I have chosen for this brief blog post. I chose those words carefully because I wanted to emphasize one of the most incredible traits of this blessed nation. The fact that America is filled with ordinary citizens who have performed extraordinary feats of courage and sacrifice in order to support and defend the principles of freedom that far too many of us take for granted.
I recently had the tremendous honor of accompanying my father to a reunion of veterans that he served with in Vietnam. These men and several of their wives got together for a weekend of fellowship for only the second time since returning from war in the 1960's. They would be the last ones to call their service heroic but, in my opinion, they most certainly qualify as heroes especially considering the unfortunate politicization and demonization of their efforts that occurred at that time in this nation's history.
One of the wives of a veteran told me the story of a church sermon that she had to walk out of when the priest suggested that the military service of her husband was immoral. Recounting events from decades in the past, I could see the hurt in her eyes and the resilience as she described the types of verbal abuse that they endured during that politically tumultuous time. I told her and several others that I believe the most important lesson that our nation learned from the Vietnam War was to never again place blame on the shoulders of our men in uniform for political policies that we may not agree with.
I think most of you reading this know the turbulent history of the Vietnam War. If you do not then I highly recommend you educate yourself about it in order to understand how wrong many of the anti-war demonstrations were. Blaming our men and women in uniform for the policies of any politician is not only wrong it is despicable and cowardly. These men and their families made unbelievable sacrifices and they did their duty to serve this great nation. There are things in this world that are worth risking everything for. Among them include faith, honor, integrity, freedom, and duty (in no particular order). These men put aside their own self preservation and did their duty because their country asked them to. They did the honorable thing while others were spitting on them and blaming them for the policies created by men far up their chain of command.
I'm not writing this in an effort to glorify war or create any illusions about the horrors of battle. Thankfully I have no experience with such things. My purpose here is to honor the men who performed their duty to the best of their ability and the families who endured their absence. There were, undoubtedly, some very negative experiences that these men lived through and those came up from time to time throughout the weekend as they recalled friends who were injured or killed in various ways in battle but these were very brief conversations. The majority of the discussions surrounded good memories of shared sacrifice, camaraderie, and just helping each other get home safely. That's what impresses me most about these American heroes and what I will endeavor to apply to my own life: their perseverance. They just never give up.
Even when the enemy was shooting at them. Even when bombs were exploding around them. Even when their friends were dying nearby. Even when their neighbors were spitting on them upon their return. Even when their political leaders were demonizing them in order to win the next election. These men kept moving forward and they continue to push on even today.
Thank you for your service and for teaching us all the importance of never giving up.
May God bless the men of C Battery, 6th and 84th artillery and their families for their service to this great nation.