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Veterans Day is November 11 each year. It is a time to stop and reflect about the lives that were dedicated to making our country what it is today. Our country may not be perfect, but it is filled with people who want it to be perfect. 

Originally called “Armistice Day” (anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I) it was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all veterans of all wars. The red poppies have become a symbol of the blood that was shed during World War I when Lt. Colonel John McCrae penned the poem “In Flanders Field” where so many soldiers were buried. Millions of artificial red poppy flowers are handed out each year in hopes of reminding people to thank our brave military men and women.

In our family, there is along list of veterans:  great grandfathers, grandfathers on both sides of our Stirnkorb-Wilson blended family, uncles, cousins, son-in-law, and now nephews are carrying on the tradition. For them we are forever grateful.

 I have lamented more than once about the way I view our country;  a people who does not appreciate the service men and women, those brave police, firemen and EMTs who put their lives in danger to keep me safe.  Several years ago, I wrote a piece about that topic. A week later I received this note (which I share in part):

To say that we are a selfish nation uncaring about one another, maybe somewhat true, but certainly does not apply to all. You have only to look to your own family and to all of the other American families who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their children and loved ones to the service of this Nation.

 Spend a day with one of the service organizations like the USO, or Blue Star Mothers of America and see what pledging one’s lives, fortunes and sacred honor still means in this country. One day spent at the Dayton Airport working with the USO, watching families say goodbye to a son or daughter, father, mother or spouse, heading off to war, will show exactly how much caring we have for each other and for this Nation.  

These words still sting my heart. We are a grateful nation-we do appreciate the sacrifice made on our behalf, but do we stop to tell the veterans how we feel? When did I last stop a veteran in the store, or on the street to recognize their service? I will strive to do better.

For all of the veterans in my life, and to those in your life, thank you for giving up warm beds, hot showers, homemade meatloaf, chocolate bars and privacy. Thank you for thinking of others before you think of yourself; for putting the worse things you have ever done out of your mind so you can now focus on the best reasons for which you did them. Thank you for remembering that every day you spend away from your family, your friends and your loved ones are days that you are standing guard so you will have a place called home when you return.

And last of all, thank you to the moms, dads, wives, and friends of those you waved good-bye to at the airport or at the seaport, because I know that for some, they were the last good-bye.

May we never forget. 

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