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Veterans Day – One Man’s Reflections

I’m sure we all have different feelings about what Veterans Day means to us. Some of us who served in uniform consider it one of the most important days in the year. I certainly do.

Others may give it just a parting glance and not dwell on it. Some see only parades and sales in stores and do not really understand what the symbolism of the day is. Some others may have a negative attitude toward it. But isn’t the fact that we can hold those views and ideas, and express them as we feel appropriate, a pretty wonderful thing?

I firmly believe that because of what veterans have done throughout America’s history we hold the freedom and ability to be able to share our thoughts and opinions the way we can.

What Veterans Day holds for us is the reminder that at various times in our history our citizen/soldiers sacrificed greatly for the rest of us – countless many with their lives and that is the most honorable and ultimate sacrifice one can give.

Following is a speech I’ve written for that day and a short video made for a hospice I do volunteer work with in honoring our veterans in celebrations of their service and of their families support while they did so. Those visits are usually done in the last six months of the veterans’ life which makes them all that much more poignant and important to do…

Here is a condensed segment of the below speech in video that was made by the hospice – I hope you enjoy it.

My fellow veterans, I am U.S. Coast Guard LCDR Reed Kohberger and am honored to represent the Coast Guard and share this celebration of Veterans Day 2020 with you.

It is such an important occasion for all of us Americans and so we are here to recognize and to honor your hard work, personal sacrifices and stalwart courage in defending and supporting our nation in both times of war and in peace.

I cannot help but feel awed by the enormity of your personal commitments to this great nation. You are the men and women who answered the call when needed and nobly served, abroad and at home, and I am in complete admiration.

Most veterans did not ask to leave the comfort and safety of their homes to travel to foreign lands and to fight on distant battlefields or sail on distant oceans; all the actions needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.  

They didn’t choose to leave all they knew and loved and went to war because they loved fighting. Yet they were called on and compelled to support and defend our nation… and they did not hesitate.

On these Veterans Days – we always speak of what our men and women did in-theater – that is during military operations. That is all well and good and as it should be. Nothing is more important than that in the long run.

But in my mind what is equally significant is what you all did after the fighting stopped.

Our independence has faced stern tests of wills against nation states that have acted to harm us and destroy our way of life. Those enemies have not succeeded… nor will they. Ensuring that holds fast is but a part of what you veterans have done for future generations.

What happened after your military service was finished is what truly made the Unites States the strong and vibrant country that it is today –that began with you coming home and applying what you had experienced and learned in those formative years of your youth to create a better life for others.

You returned home from Europe, Asia or the Pacific and looked toward what our country’s future should be – then buckled down and did the hard work ahead to make it so.

Whether it was working in the mills, mines, farms or construction sites to provide the needed resources to make America grow… You did it. Some used the training and talents learned in their ratings to build bridges, raise cities, dig harbors and lay highways…. You did it.

Perhaps you went to college on the GI bill and used your knowledge in engineering, science; the medical arts or education into creating a new America and better Americans… you did it.

You, and so many others, lived through the trials and tribulations of a world war… then in peacetime unselfishly gave your time and energy to others.

You all squared your shoulders, looked toward our future and marched straight into it.

Way too often that part of being a veteran has been overlooked and – to me at least – I feel that is just as great a gift you have given us as the victories you won on the battle fields, in the skies and on the oceans.

Today our young men and women continue to make the ultimate sacrifices, and even as we lose troops in service more Americans step forward and say, “I am ready, let me help.” They live, serve and fight by choice in a volunteer military. Thus we pay tribute to those future veterans who are currently in service also.

This week people throughout the country will come together to remember and voice their gratitude to those of you who have protected us so well. Our celebration here now is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today. Doing this is a way for us to say “We remember you and we always will”.

From the soldiers who shivered and starved through that long ago winter at Valley Forge; the doughboys crouched in the muddy trenches of France; Fighter pilots in the skies over Europe, platoons who patrolled the jungles of Vietnam; the young men and women on the mountains of Afghanistan and the sands of Iraq, and to all our sailors on ships on and under the sea, we remember and honor you all.

God bless you Veterans and your families. God bless our current military members wherever they are stationed…and God bless these United States.



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