When I think of veterans...
When I think of veterans...
A Tribute on Veterans Day
by Angel Shamaya
November 11, 2002
When I think of veterans...
I think of my friend who was wounded in
Vietnam. He may not have wanted to go, but his country called him, and he went
-- and faced atrocities that make Hollywood movies look tame. Men died in his
arms and left their last wishes in his breaking heart. He came home and was spit
on by his own countrymen. He works for freedom to this day.
I think of my neighbor who flew choppers in
Nam. He'd spend 12 sweaty hours a day getting supplies to ground troops in hot
zones, often under fire, try to sleep, and get up and do it again. He buried
friends who knew a kind of love only a combat veteran will ever know. When he
meets fellow vets who survived the same conflict, they have an instant bond that
requires no words.
I think of my friend who spent years at sea, in
and out of hostile ports, while his newborn son grew up far away from his loving
eyes and arms.
I think of a member of our gun rights
organization stationed halfway around the world who said he joined because he
wants some rights to come home to.
I think of my grandfather, who was at one point
tasked with picking up body parts after bloody World War II battles. When he got
home, my mother was nearly four years old. Grandma said my young mother was
"afraid of the big, male stranger."
I think of the young woman nurse who tended
tattered soldiers in Korea until an enemy mortar disintegrated everything in
sight of the makeshift hospital. She foreswore starting a family until she got
back, which never happened.
I think of the hundreds of thousands of
Americans who died fighting Hitler and his scummy allies and how there are
people in America today trying to put the same kinds of policies in place that
made a Hitler possible.
I think of people living in America who hate
the military but don't mind living under the umbrella of protection they
provide. They don't stop to think about the fact that there are countries where
badmouthing the military publicly will get you killed by the government -- and
that our military keeps that very government at a distance and keeps a watchful
eye on them.
I think of the countless grandmothers, mothers,
sisters and daughters who've cried, their souls in pieces, as their servicemen
loved ones paid the ultimate price defending a freedom many
"Americans" not only take for granted but seem willing to kill or let
I think of a fine human being I knew who wasted
away from cancer and assorted horrid nervous system maladies due to "agent orange"
poisoning. He was still getting abused by his own countrymen 20 years after
returning from Vietnam for having done what his country asked him to do. He
never once spoke badly of them; he said it was their right to hate him and say
I think of the thousands of Gulf War Veterans
who were subjected to chemical weapons and came back, got sick and in countless
cases died as a result of what many now call Gulf War Illness -- and I think of
the federal government's blatant coverup of the whole entire tragic fiasco.
I think of the dead on the U.S.S. Cole attack,
how people say we shouldn't have a presence in that anti-America hostile
territory -- the same people who watched Islamic freaks crash planes into the
World Trade Center but who believe our nation should do nothing in retaliation,
merely because the cowards behind the act didn't have the guts to stand up and
I think of a few hundred firemen and policemen
in New York City and see those men and women -- marching toward a building from
which everyone else ran as fast as they could -- as veterans of a war brought to
our shore. And I think of their families and friends -- and the many children
left behind in the wake of their passing. And I wish those pilots had been armed
I think of what you can find at most any VFW
post: men who lost limbs, men who lost friends and family, men who've lost
families because they couldn't put the pieces together when they got back. Men
who died on the battlefield but came back anyway, because they were still
breathing. And men who just want to be around other men who understand.
I think of the cop who'd previously served
aboard a naval vessel in places many of us would never want to go even if all
expenses were paid. As a police officer, his job was confronting the city's
pain, and he did it without complaining. I think of the Medal of Honor he should
have gotten for the child he rescued from a perverted, violent kidnapper even
though it meant he had to take two bullets and lose partial use of an arm for
I think of the great leaders throughout
American military history -- heroic, and unsung -- who've innovated and agitated
to make sure fewer visits had to be paid to worried mothers whose worst
nightmares had just come true.
I think of all of the dog tags sitting on the
bottom of all of the oceans and seas of the world that have real names on them.
I think of the colonial mothers who gave not
only their husbands but all of their sons -- because they had to fight for the
I think of the men under General Washington who
literally ate boot leather to keep from starving to death but got up and fought
on when it was time, their frozen bodies aching for freedom.
And I think of all of our domestic servicemen
and women who've never officially served in the armed forces but who stand armed
and at the ready in the unorganized militia clearly and officially enumerated in
10, Section 311 of the U.S. Code. They work feverishly with spare time and
money to assure that their rifle skills aren't needed here, that the fascists,
socialists and outright communists in America fail in their obvious missions to
undermine everything that makes America unique unto all the world. The
unorganized militiamen and women are the modern domestic guard, and they perform
their thankless tasks while the media tries to paint them as downright evil --
even though the spirit that drives them is one of overriding love for all that
Being a veteran is ultimately about defending
freedom, and freedom is ultimately about rights. In the war being waged against
rights in America, there are many who labor and toil to defend our most sacred
of rights: the right to defend ourselves, our families, our communities, and, if
need be, our very liberties. The last word on liberty's defense was enshrined in
the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Let us pray we use our First
Amendment rights so effectively as to never have to resort to the Second -- but
let us remember why the Second was really put in place. And let Liberty's
Enemies remember it, too.
There are no words one can offer to the
veterans who've already paid with their lives for Freedom; they are gone from
us, their gifts cherished. Their presence lives in their descendants, and their
spirits touch us all. May we remember them -- and put their ultimate price to
work to extend their message.
As for today's servicemen and women and those
retired from active duty who still live, one can only hope you have people in
your life who will look you in the eye, embrace you with warmth and genuine
enthusiasm and say something that conveys deep gratitude and appreciation. We
salute you on this fine day and count you as a 21st century patriot.