Our Veterans: Sweat Equity in America

veterans wallA few months ago (actually I think it was around Memorial Day) I was visiting with my 84-year-old father. At his independent living community, they had just completed a commemorative wall featuring residents who had served in the armed forces. Each resident was showcased with a print of one of their service portraits, next to a recent photo.

It was neat to see my father’s display in the dining hall. That’s what prompted him to tell me that when it comes time for his funeral, he did not wish to have the full blown veteran’s honors that may be available. As far as he was concerned, a folded flag and basic recognition of his service would be good enough for him.

I had no issue with that, but asked him why. “As you know, my service time was done mostly in Japan after the fighting stopped in Korea, and that was like a vacation!” he quipped. Indeed, my dad enlisted in early 1953, not long before the cease fire was signed. Of course, he didn’t know the fighting would soon end—otherwise it was just as likely he would have gone into combat. But he was fortunate to have dodged that bullet.

Instead, he spent the bulk of his time on a base in Japan, doing his job in cryptography and having lots of fun at every opportunity (which included teaching himself how to sail).

It’s odd…I often recall how as a young child, I somehow inwardly thought that my generation would also face an armed conflict that I would ultimately have to serve in. But that never transpired. Yes, we’ve had war, but for decades they have been fought with an all-volunteer service. And I never stepped up to volunteer. Instead, I just sat back and enjoyed the benefits.

In building a business, it is the owners who must step up and volunteer. They do it not just with their financial investment, but with their time and labor. They build sweat equity.

When it comes to our country, it is our veterans who have that “sweat equity” in our nation, and the freedoms we enjoy. Some are fortunate to have served in a way that largely kept them out of harms way; others, not so much. And indeed, my father’s point was not to trivialize the value any one person’s military service, no matter where, when or how they served. Rather, it was that sense of honor for those whose service cost more than just a few years of their youth.

But ALL of our veterans deserve our thanks, honor and respect. The freedom we have today is the result of their sweat; and of their fallen comrades—their blood.

Wishing you and yours a Happy and Blessed Veterans Day.

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