On November 11, our grateful country recognizes all Veterans in all the Service Branches, past and present, and thanks them for their service.
Whether you were an infantryman, an aviator or a sailor; whether you received a medal for valor, or completed your hitch and never deployed; whether you suffered an injury at the hands of the enemy, or never even heard a round or explosion louder than a firecracker on July 4. It doesn’t matter. Because the day has been set aside to acknowledge the fact that all Veterans signed a blank check to Uncle Sam to serve and protect the greatest experiment that man has yet created.
The blank check was drawn without caveats such as duty station preference, specialty, duration or training. You did as the “needs of the service” dictated. With a few ugly and embarrassing exceptions, the United States has always respected, admired and ultimately thanked its Veterans for their service.
I find it comforting, therefore, and appropriate, that in the same month the country recognizes its servicemen and women, and thanks them for their sacrifices large and small, it also takes time out on the fourth Thursday of the month to give thanks for everything we enjoy and cherish, not just our military. Yet, so much of what we enjoy and cherish in this country stems from the obligations that our Veterans carried out with fidelity and bravery.
So I would like to dedicate this column to all of the men and women in my life that have made me the luckiest man on Earth. From my parents and my family, to so many teachers, instructors and coaches; to mentors and role models; and yes, even to some of antagonists along the path, whose wrong way led me to the right way.
I was aboard the USS MIDWAY (CV-41) in 1987, when Bob Hope and his merry band of entertainers, including Lee Greenwood and Barbara Eden, performed for 5,000 sailors and Marines during one of his last USO Shows for the Troops. Our Carrier Group had been relieved on-station in the Arabian Sea by the USS Enterprise (CV-65) and we were headed for some well-earned R&R. We had just completed our part in Operation Earnest Will, and were now headed back to our homeport in Yokosuka, Japan, via several port calls along the way. Our first stop was Mombasa, Kenya where we rang in the New Year.
I often recall Bob Hope and his trademark send off at the end of his shows. On Nov. 11 and Nov. 23, I’ll be humming, “Thanks For the Memories…”