Today is Veterans Day, when we celebrate those who have served in the military in defense of our country. As readers of this blog are aware, I support veterans and do all I can to help them.
Howard County, Maryland, where I live, is home to more than 20,000 veterans. As a veteran myself, I feel very much at home here.
Yesterday, Sunday, 10 November, I marched in a Veterans Day parade in Columbia, Maryland and then was in the audience for a tribute to veterans on the shores of Lake Kittamaqundi. The ceremony repeatedly brought tears to my eyes as speakers recounted the sacrifices veterans make for their country, including the last full measure of devotion, and musicians and singers sang patriotic songs. Last night, I attended a gala to celebrate veterans, especially Marines—10 November is the Marine Corps birthday.
Every month I attend the county Veterans Commission meeting where the progress of programs for veterans is reviewed and new initiatives are considered. The county goes out of its way to create respect for veterans and to honor them. And every month I meet with fellow veterans at our American Legion meeting. I am honored to be included. I would be a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars except that I wasn’t officially in uniform during my many times in combat. I was under cover as a Marine or soldier, but I was still a civilian.
We veterans are becoming fewer. In 2016, 7 percent of U.S. adults were veterans, down from 18 percent in 1980, according to the Census Bureau. When the draft ended in 1973, people stopped joining the military voluntarily.
I think the dwindling number of veterans is America’s loss. I would favor reinstating the draft because military service is a superb learning experience for young men and women. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my time in the army. I learned, among other things, what I’m capable of.
So let us celebrate veterans today. Go out of your way today to find a veteran and say to him the words I so yearned to hear after Vietnam: “Thank you for your service. And welcome home.”