On Veterans Day this year, take a moment and pause to consider the very simple phrase: “If you love your freedom, thank a veteran.” Take a moment to really consider the meaning of those eight simple words. Consider what it means to thank a veteran, more importantly, consider what it means to a veteran to hear someone say, “thank you for your service.”
A good starting point to find the answer to the question of why we should thank a veteran for our freedom are in the timeless words of Ronald Reagan when he said, “Well, today, Veterans Day, as we do every year, we take that moment to embrace the gentle heroes of Vietnam and of all our wars. We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.”
Think about it for a moment, a veteran was prepared to make a sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, and they were prepared to do so to protect America’s freedom. Would the willingness of a veteran to sacrifice be worthy of pausing for a moment to say to a veteran, “thank you for your service,” a veteran who served not to hear those words, but rather, served out of a love for a free America.
Over the years, many words have been written about the freedoms’ we enjoy, and the reasons we should be thankful for our veterans. On this Veterans Day, as we consider the sacrifices of all veterans, it would be appropriate to shake the cobwebs off Charles M. Province’s poem, “It is the Soldier,” a poem which should give all of us a reason to take a moment to say thank you to a veteran for the freedoms we enjoy.
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
On this Veterans Day, if you are truly thankful for the freedoms you enjoy, take a moment to pause and say “thank you for your service” to a veteran. Although you might not believe that saying thank you to a veteran for their service has any meaning, those simple words mean more to a veteran than you will ever know.
So, as I often do, I will ask each of you to join me on my imaginary mountaintop and help me shout as loudly as possible to every veteran, “thank you for your service, thank you for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.”
Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent, federal prosecutor, and proud military veteran, practices law in Lexington, Kentucky.
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