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Happy Veterans Day

It is Veterans Day, the immensely important civic holiday that honors the brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.

You’ve heard the standards for this holiday – bravery, sacrifice, freedom.  But have you considered these matters in microcosm?  Because the big picture isn’t enough to understand the fullness of this holiday.
 
My Grandfather was drafted into the Army during World War II.  He was a young man, just out of high school.  Most of us panic at the thought of sending our surely ill-prepared broods off to college but I wonder how we’d feel if, instead, we were packing our children up for a theater of war.  And worrying, not about whether they could find the cafeteria, but instead about whether they would make it back alive. 
 
Of the young men in my grandfather’s battalion only five survived.  The odds were not in his favor but he did make it back.  And returned with a Bronze Star. 
 
He also returned with an enduring fear of thunderstorms as the sounds, for the remaining six decades of his life, never failed to return him to those nights in Italy.  When the noises were not random strikes of lightening but rather hurtling pieces of artillery aimed in his direction intending mortal injury.  The experience of war is deeply etched and the relentlessness of those barrages were sufficient to make this an enduring fear. 
 
There is far more to this story.  But, for now, I think it is enough simply to say that my grandfather spent many years fighting in World War II.  When he returned home, he joined other Veterans at Hill Chase Steel in Baltimore.  That, too, served America.  Our freedoms, ease, joy and peace were secured by his sacrifice, deprivation, courage and conflict.  He, and many other veterans, stood in the way of those who would deprive American of its essential freedoms and secured the ease of America’s remaining citizenry.  I am humbled and grateful for his service.
 
I hope that you will find time today to thank, sincerely and effusively, someone who served.  And, also, their mothers, fathers, spouses and children.  Military service is rarely a solitary experience and our gratitude must extend both to the Veterans and to all who care for them.  

Thank you, Veterans and God Bless America.