“Thank you for your service;” words that ring hollow to many Veterans. Platitudes offered once or twice a year, in passing. Not that veterans don’t graciously accept these thanks with smile and a “it was my pleasure.” But next time you thank a veteran remember this, every veteran died a little for you. They died in forts, bases, and camps around the nation where they were taken as boys and girls and torn down to nothing to be rebuilt as soldiers.
Yes, when many of them touched American soil again they were still drawing breath, but they died out there somewhere, by degrees, for you. These hero Veterans all bear the scars both seen and unseen. They bear wounds that will never quite heal.
They bear scars and carry the weight of fallen brothers as real as the weight was when they carried them on their shoulders. They bear the scars of countless necessary things they did and saw that offend their souls and numb their hearts. They were irrevocably changed out there and a part of themselves was lost.
That little girl on the news running to her daddy’s arms, she only knows who he is from a picture that mama would show her saying that daddy loves her. The wife, husband, parent, brother or sister holding that “Welcome Back Private Jones” sign and the little plastic American flag; they died a little too. Worrying, hoping, praying, and crying. Sitting bolt upright at three a.m. worried that today is the day that two men in class A’s are going to show up on their doorstep.
So next time you say “Thank you For your service” Look them in the eye, and maybe they will catch a gleam that shows it’s not just a platitude, that you really and truly mean it. And don’t forget to thank their families for their service as well because in spirit they walked beside their soldier.
If you are a Veteran or a family member of a Veteran I truly thank you for your service.
Scott N. Noyes