When most of us were growing up, our initial role models were our parents. Other role models were the cowboy heroes who fought the bad guys on television.
As we grew older we forgot those TV heroes and focused on rock band front men or sports stars. Political figures captured the attention of others. Some of our parents and some of our neighbors served in the military and forged the future for us. From then on, they were called veterans. These veterans represented every branch of service and every rank. They were not faceless robots, but rather someone's son or daughter, brother or sister, father, nephew or niece, uncle or aunt or friend. They come from every walk of life, from every part of our country. Time and again, across generations, they have defended our safety in the dark of night and far from home. How many of these veterans now serve as our role models?
Veterans are usually ordinary young people, performing remarkable acts of bravery and selfless acts of devotion to a cause bigger than themselves. They were part of something monumental, although they may not have been fully aware of it at the time. They could have done something more self-serving, but chose to serve knowing full well they could go in harm's way. They did not avoid the most basic and cherished responsibility of a citizen, on the contrary they welcomed it; they were some of the best our nation had to offer. The dedication and commitment of those who serve is unparalleled. They are heroes every day because they stand ready to go across the globe to defend our freedom and way of life. For those who never serve in the military, they should be obligated to all veterans, because they came forward at the call of our country and served in your place.
The life and death aspect of combat has left a lifelong impression on many of these veterans. It made other situations in life seem insignificant and somewhat anticlimactic. Many of our veterans have passed away and are just a memory in a photo album or are buried in a cemetery with a cross of wood or their name on a stone near a tiny town you probably can't pronounce. Thousands of our nations veterans are buried in military cemeteries overseas.
Every day, and particularly on this historic day, we should honor the men and women in uniform who serve our country and protect our freedom. They carry our nation's colors to the dangerous corners of the world, and we must remember that for every person who is in uniform, there are families who wait for them to come home safely. Just as they have stood tall for our country, we must always stand by and support the men and women in uniform and their families.
The markers over the graves of those who gave their lives and all the veterans dying daily serve as silent sentinels, and we owe an eternal debt of gratitude to them. Our veterans agreed to keep faith with us; this Veterans Day let us acknowledge that debt and keep faith with them. Let us pay homage to all our veterans and especially to these area servicemen who allowed us to live in freedom and sleep peaceful at night. They lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved. Now they are at peace for in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.
James Antolini, Randall Arbogast, Dennis Baxter, Gary Burgess, Tex Patrick, Roger Griffith, Thomas Hess, Bernard Jones, Fred Kerns, Cecil Kittle Jr., Steven Mollohan, Garry Shannon, David Shiflett, Robert Simmons, Samuel Summerfield, Russell Taylor and Robert Thompson, all killed in Vietnam; LCpl David Cosner, killed in the Beirut bombing; BT2 Mark Hutchison, killed on board USS Iwo Jima in the Middle East; Sgt R. J. Jimenez and Navy Corpsman Matthew G. Conte, killed in Iraq.