Home / Fall 2011 / 2011-11-10 / Veterans deserve appreciation

Veterans deserve appreciation

Listen.

Listen for the 6,200 names.

It could have been you; but because it wasn’t, listen and pay respect.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, VSU’s chapter of Student Veterans of America will sponsor a Remembrance Day Roll Call beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday. VSU faculty, staff and students will read the names of the 6,200 plus men and women who lost their lives in service to America in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom in the past decade.

Veteran’s Day, once known as Armistice Day, was declared at the end of WWI—the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The day is set aside in remembrance of the men and women who serve in a branch of the military.

In the long list of all the holidays Americans celebrate, Veterans’ Day always seems to fall by the wayside—funny, considering how much pride we’re all supposed to have as Americans. If federal employees didn’t have the day off, some of us might not even recognize Veteran’s Day as a real holiday.

Why do we let this important day go without actually stopping to appreciate these brave men and women?

I once overheard a group of people discussing their opinions on the war in Iraq. Most of them disagreed with continuously sending troops overseas to fight in a war they felt should have ended a long time ago.

Then one of the guys in the group said something his friends didn’t agree with.

“Why should I pay respect to people in the military?” he asked. “I did not ask them to do what they are doing and I don’t respect the decision to go to war.”

I was happy to see that he was the only person in the group to feel this way.

You can disagree with the decision to send troops overseas and you can protest the government who sent them there. But you can’t ignore the fact that these are extremely brave men and women working to maintain the American freedoms we all enjoy.

The Remembrance Day Roll Call is expected to last about six hours. While walking from class to class, or sitting with friends on the Pedestrian Mall, take a second to stop talking—and just listen for the names.

Each name called is a person. Each person had a family, friends, hobbies —a life. You may not have asked them to join, but regardless, they did.

They put a stop to their hobbies so you could continue yours. They left their family and friends so you could enjoy spending time with yours. And they died fighting for what they believed in.

Some people, especially recently, see joining the military as a last option for people who don’t want—or can’t—go to college, start a family, etc.

Entering the military is just as noble a choice as other options. And joining does not mean the end of all other choices. Many people serve active duty for years, then return home and work on base or return to college.

Both of my parents served several years in the military. In fact, that is where they met. They both received enormous amounts of love and support from their own parents. After serving active duty, they married, moved to Georgia and began working at Robins Air Force base as civilians with government jobs.

During summers out of school, I spent the days with my mother on base, watching airplanes land and take off through her office window. My father used to enjoy showing me pictures of what he calls “the good old days”—my dad standing with his arm around my mother, both grinning and wearing uniforms.

My grandparents were proud of my parents and so am I.

I was obviously raised to have great respect for those who made the conscious choice to risk their lives for others—active duty or not. You never know when that call is going to come. To me, they are no different from the law enforcement we expect to protect us every day and they deserve no less respect.

Veteran’s Day is not a campaign to convince anyone to join the military. Instead, it’s a day to say thanks.

On Friday, as VSU faculty, staff and students gather in front of West Hall on the lawn to read the names of men and women who have lost lives in service, make an effort to catch at least one name—just one, out of 6,200—and say “Thank you.”

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