by Andy Barnett
It was my honor and privilege to serve our country. I pray to God that, as a nation we never forget the fact that everything we have and enjoy stems from the fact we are a free society, unlike ANY other nation on earth. The fact we are a free society stems from the fact we have the absolute best military ever formed.
Amazingly, there are those who would disagree and who seem to think our way of life is a coincidence - that it just happened. Were it not for our military going "over there" to fight, the fight would be "here" on our own soil.
Every Veteran's day I become a bit miffed and more than a little saddened at what I witness during the annual parade. I understand young children fidgeting, talking and generally being children as the parade passes, but what I see most adults engaged in, is almost heart breaking. Even as the colors pass they continue to laugh, talk, look everywhere EXCEPT at the flag, and most don't even have the respect to cover their heart or remove a hat.
Having grown up on military bases and in military towns, I recall vividly (even as a child) standing straight and still with my hand over my heart as the colors went by. As the school bands, cheerleaders, company floats, etc., came by, yeah there was cheering and yelling. But whenever a flag or someone in uniform passed, there was silence and an almost palatable sense of awe as we watched them go by. Even as a very young child who didn't fully understand what was going on, I knew this was a special time and I was to be on my best behavior. If I ever let that truth escape me and didn't pay attention to what was going on, a quick pop on the butt was my steady reminder!
I remember once (I must have been about 5-6) looking up at my dad as he stood at attention in his AF uniform. As the colors passed and he saluted, I saw tears rolling down his face. After the parade I asked him why he was crying and was he sad about something. He said no, that sometime people cry when they are happy too, and that he was so happy that we lived in America and that someday he was sure I would understand. I have understood for a long time now and pray to God I never forget what that means.
Thanks to all who have served and continue to do so. You have my undying, heartfelt respect and gratitude. May God bless each and every one of you.
Retired - 26 years with N.A.L.C. Branch 27 - Memphis, Tennessee
Also Retired - USAF Avionics Instrument Systems Specialist