It is a brotherhood, the depths of which can only be understood by those who have worn the cloth of the nation. It is a family – a sacred, shared sense of belonging.
In World War II, it was difficult to find a house without a blue star in the window. Today, it is difficult to find one at all. But it doesn’t matter. A Marine serving in Afghanistan today understands the same thing a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge learned long ago in the bitter winter of 1944.
To serve one’s country is an honor.
It is not easy. The separation is difficult, and it is even harder on those who stay at home. They have waited and prayed for their loved ones to walk through the door, to feel their embrace once more and make their families whole again. The spouses, the children, the parents – they have served too.
It is dangerous. Those who have experienced combat have seen the worst of humanity. Sometimes the memories are so intense that they never go away. Others have fallen, sacrificing their lives in service to the country.
Some of the veterans have been welcomed home as heroes, but many have not. Some have been treated shamefully when they return.
But all of them, no matter when or where they served, will always be embraced by their brothers and sisters who have also served, and by their loved ones who understand their sacrifices and dedication to a great cause.
That cause is freedom. It is for that, and for those engaged in the same struggle, that they have served.
To all of the veterans of this great nation, thank you.