Another day ends. Another Sun sets. The Veteran, even in the crowd, is alone in his thoughts.
Another day and time, another places, has been his dwelling place the past 24 sacred hours.
"I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved."
General order #1: the very first thing a private learns when entering the Army.
Where are the men and women he has served with? How have their lives turned out? Do they remember the laughs, the triumphs? Do they still feel the pain and loss, and cry the same tears?
"Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers."
The First Stanza of the Ranger Creed: that code of conduct of an elite group of army soldiers. When you see them you now death is on the way. These men train when the rest of the world sleeps. Nightstalkers in "little birds", Blackhawks, and Chinnoks, are theirs guardian angels, while spectre gunships are their archangels.
I remember with respect the fire of then SSg. Williamson, the sarcams of then SSg Bunch, the passion of then SFC Watson, the toughness of then SFC Lamb, the detail of then Spc Strouse and Spc James, and numerous other men who had such a tremendous impact on my young naive life. These were my first army trainers and mentors: my squad leaders, my platoon...B. Company 3/75 Ranger.
"I am a warrior. I will teach and fight whenever and wherever my nation requires. I will strive always to excel in every art and artifice of war. I know that I will be called upon to perform tasks in isolation, far from familiar faces and voices. With the help and guidance of my faith, I will conquer my fears and succeed."
Special Forces: if you see them you are dead already. There long before anyone recognizes, gone before anyone realizes, these men serve with little to no recognition whatsoever of the service they have been giving. None but they will ever know what has been done one behalf of others, many of whom have no appreciation for the 50 boxes of cereal they are priviledged to choose from, the 20 pairs of shoes they own in their closet, their need to remodel the house every other year, much less the toilet seat used, the warm showers taken, the hot meals we eaten, or the soft mattress slept on in this great nation of possibilities.
The men and women of the U.S Army which I have had the priviledge of serving are some of the most sacrificial people I know. There are no heroics in my portfolio. I am simply grateful to have shared time, space, and be mentored by these people.
As a hospital chaplain, having left active service, I reflect back on the people I have served with. How are they now? Where are they now? Who are they now?
I remember who I was, when they taught me to stand in my place on the wall, when they shared MRE's and slept in mud with me, when they pushed me to excellence, allowing me to blossom into the man I have become.
In my life, their sacrifice was not in vain. I can admit to day that I strive in my profession to be worthy of their words, tears, blood, and nightmares. I strive to be a better husband, father, family member, friend, and chaplain. I strive to live by the loyalty and integrity of those great men (RLTW) and women who poured so much into me, who made this scared black boy from Ohio into the man he is today.
This is what they taught me while I stood my post.
This is what was handed to those to stand there now.
May God bless my Military brothers and sisters on this Veteran's Day.