Partnership in Patriotism
B. Leo Dolan Post 410
What Is A Vet?
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service...a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in their eye.
Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - perhaps another sort of inner steel: the souls ally forged in the refining of adversity.
Except in parades, however, men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking. What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent more than six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel. He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown boyhood frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She or he is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the P.O.W. who went away one person and came back another or didn't come back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico Drill Instructor teaching marines to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is three anonymous heroes in the tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's countless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket... palsied now and aggravatingly slow... who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet extraordinary human being... a person who offered his life's most vital years in service of his country, and sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier, a savior, and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
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