In this week when we celebrate and honor our veterans, I would like to take a deeper look at some military greats who exemplify what it means to be a true patriot.
We all know the story of Captain John McCain who was captured in North Vietnam and held prisoner for 6 years. He was permanently disabled but continued to serve his country in the U.S. Senate.
Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth is a name we also know. She flew a Blackhawk helicopter in the Iraq war, was shot down and lost both legs and partial use of one arm. She is an Asian American who, like John McCain, though disabled, continued to serve the country as a congresswoman and now a U.S. Senator. Her focus in all her public service is how we treat our veterans.
General Colin Powell served in the military for 35 years, becoming the first Afro-Caribbean American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He continued in public service, achieving many “firsts”, ultimately the first Black U.S. Secretary of State.
We know their names, but there are many veterans alive today whose names we do not know. Many have suffered torture, been seriously wounded, and/or dedicated their entire lives to serving our country. Most of us, including me, cannot image what it is like to sacrifice as they have sacrificed.
These three individuals have many things in common. They embody traits we regard with great respect: honor, leadership, honesty, compassion, bravery, love of America . . . They chose to serve their country instead of taking jobs that would have garnered a great deal more money. Sadly, they were all denigrated by the former president as suckers and losers.
In our politically charged world, I suspect some readers will also denigrate veterans simply because they have different hopes and dreams for America. Some are calling to mind a flaw, some shortcoming of at least one of these three giants. Now is the time to set aside all our political rhetoric and honor these and the many, many other veterans by offering up our appreciation for their service and, as a country, a pledge to address their many needs.
I offer a humble thank you to all who have served.
Fort Payne, Alabama
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