Not Forgotten: Honoring Our Veterans

Veterans    Veterans2

The time: September, 1966. I was on a bus with a bunch of other guys being taken an hour or two away from home to be evaluated for fitness for the military. The Vietnam war was going hot and heavy, and I feel confident only a few of the fellows on that bus actually wanted to be there.

I sure didn’t.

I was supposed to be attending my first day of classes at Frostburg State College (now University), but how was I supposed to know I’d needed to inform my draft board that my recent graduation from junior college hadn’t ended my education?

The whole idea of my being drafted was ridiculous, anyhow. Not only am I truly colorblind—the examining physicians didn’t believe me—I’d  been excused from participating in contact sports in phys. ed. ever since my encephalitis in the eighth grade. Because I was taking thyroid medicine, they held me over till the next day to have that tested.

All in all, it was a very scary time in my life. Especially since I passed when I shouldn’t have. Fortunately, my parents straightened things out with the draft board and I resumed my education as planned.

Many of the male teacher ed. students in my classes were simply taking  advantage of the fact that teachers were exempt from the draft. That was understandable, I thought at the time, although I honestly wanted to teach. But I was thankful for thoses who went to Vietnam instead of me.

The war ended. Eventually. We lost. Or at least we didn’t win.

But the Vietnam war was so unpopular with the American people that we failed to welcome our surviving veterans home with open arms. Or paid very much respect to those who came home in coffins. Too many Americans treated the veterans with contempt, not appreciation. As if going to war in Vietnam was their idea. Tales of the way we “honored” our veterans are horrific and inexcusable.

Now we’re fighting wars overseas that are probably just as unpopular. But at least the American people aren’t holding our military responsible for our being there. They’re placing the blame largely on presidents past and present. And the federal government in general.

Understandable. Especially since the government has failed to provide adequate funding for various military expenses, including decent pay. And what kind of medical care are our veterans coming home to?

I think America cares about her veterans. More than our government leaders seem to. Thank goodness for businesses like the two depicted at the top of this page who either offer discounts to veterans or show other kinds of support.

Memorial Day is not meant to commemorate all veterans—Veterans Day does that—but those who died in service to our country. Often in places we disapproved of their being in.

A singer/songwriter friend of ours, Michelle Lockey, wrote a song called “Not Forgotten.” Although she wrote it to memorialize the victims of 9/11, she also meant it for our veterans. I would recommend watching this video of her singing it.

She’s given me permission to share the lyrics (I’ve shortened some of the repeated parts):

Freedom’s not a game.
There was a price to pay.
Didn’t know where you were going,
But you kept on marching.
And for those who lost their lives
Shines an eternal light
Brighter than the stars,
As big as our dreams.

You will not be forgotten;
You will not be ignored.
The sacrifice you made will never die in vain.
Oh, no.
You will not be forgotten.

You forged out a path
And never looked back.
You’re the champions we needed,
The heroes to keep us moving.

Oh, you will not be forgotten;
You will not be ignored.
The sacrifice you made will never die in vain.
Oh, no.
You will not be forgotten.

I wouldn’t have made a good soldier, but I would’ve done my best. And who knows? I might have died trying. So might any of you. But thanks to the ones who did, we didn’t have to.

Won’t you join me in praying for our military—thanking God for those who gave their lives and for those who didn’t have to and asking His blessings on both our active and inactive military?

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