Today, around 11 AM, folks in Harrisonburg gathered around the German artillery piece from World War I near Memorial Hall to pause and reflect on Veterans’ Day. In the half an hour that followed, there were speeches, music, the firing of a handful of guns, and the laying of a wreath and flowers to remember those who have fought on behalf of our nation.
Personally, I found the thoughts of the veterans most interesting. One mentioned that there are very few veterans serving in Congress these days. Another spoke about how the country is currently losing far more veterans to suicide than combat losses. The former soldier in the green uniform talked about his time in Vietnam, mentioning that his greatest fear at that time was not dying, but rather falling into the hands of the enemy. Although he did not elaborate, he declared that war was the most dreadful of human experiences, causing people to do all sorts of terrible things. He hoped that either in war or peace, he would never set foot again in Vietnam.
We should be thankful to our veterans for their willingness to serve and protect our freedoms. By doing so, we shouldn’t allow our politicians to treat these men and women as mere pawns to be sacrificed freely. War ought to be the option of last resort and our armed forces should only be deployed when our nation is either under attack or under threat of attack. In that way, we would be honoring the men and women who don the uniform.