by Rich Héroux
How can you identify a veteran, you might ask yourself.
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg, or perhaps another sort of inner steel, the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity.
Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a person is a veteran just by looking.
He is the cop-on-the-beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.
She is a nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang, South Vietnam.
He is the parade-riding veteran who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back home another — or didn’t come back at all.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket — palsied and aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who now wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He or she is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being — a person who offered some of his or her life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed ambitions so that others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say, “Thank you for your service.” That’s all most veterans need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.
Two little words that mean a lot: Thank you.
Veterans Day this year is Nov. 11 amd will be celebrated throughout the community.
The Walter E. Cole American Legion Post 187 will conduct a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Wake Forest Veterans Memorial located at the Heritage Golf Course club house, just off Heritge Avenue. Signs clearly marking directions are found at all major entrances to Wake Forest.
This ceremony is a splendid way of demonstrating gratitude to veterans for answering the country’s call during periods of conflict. The ceremony is open to all.
Please join fellow veterans and exhibit your support for our service men and women.