The following are some excerpts from stories written by students volunteering at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia, MO. You may want to write a story of your own.
WHY ARE VETERANS SPECIAL?
In our family room next to the fireplace sits a globe with several black marker lines drawn around it. Your first assumption is that maybe a little kid got hold of it and decided to leave his mark, but on a second look you see that the lines are deliberate routes across the oceans, connecting countries and islands. These lines are in fact the work of my grandpa---a very big kid who took the globe and decided to mark it with his many trips about serving onboard a World War II Naval vessel. I remember listening to him recollect his trips across the Atlantic and Pacific to foreign counties from Great Britain and India to Australia and the Philippines. I also remember wondering what my dad would do when he discovered what my grandpa had done to his globe. Every time my grandparents come to visit, my grandpa has us get the globe and he proceeds to describe his war days to any new “victims” who have not heard the stories.
I don’t think at first I gave my grandpa the respect or admiration he deserved for being a World War II veteran. All I know about the war came from school---it was a horrible part of history that I had no personal connection to, something of a past generation. I politely listened to grandpa at first without any real interest. I was more curious about why he wrote on our globe. I now listen to him with more interest; this is not dull, factual history usually taught at school, but a personal story filled with emotions and eye-witness accounts that will never be in text books. With him, the past comes alive because it is not just about historic figures or major battles of the war, but tales of real people.
Veterans like my grandpa are the living bridge to a past. Their memories bring back to life events that are sometimes left in a dusty corner and forgotten. As a younger generation, we need to listen to these veterans because the stories they tell will be something totally unexpected and surprising. You just never know when one will be inspired to draw on your globe!
HONOR THE VETERANS
In this day of relative peace and prosperity, many young Americans may take for granted what veterans have done for our country and what they still do today. Veterans represent all of the good things about our nation and its people. One only needs to look at the words of our founding fathers to see what veterans fought for.
All veterans recognized their obligation to this country when they joined the military. They were willing to honor this commitment that they made in any way. When veterans went off to war, they set aside their personal needs for the good of the nation. Veterans are special because they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the common good of this society. Veterans journeyed to foreign soil and into hostile waters to protect those left behind on American soil. As far back as our fight for independence and as recently as Desert Storm, veterans have shown they are willing to go anywhere to preserve our rights. Veterans fought in unpopular and unappreciated conflicts like Vietnam.
Veterans are important, and we should not forget what they have done for this great land. We should take time out in our day, by saying a prayer or speech. So when Veterans Day comes around remember to honor all those, living or dead, who served. It could be something as simple as going to a Veterans Day parade or writing a short paper, like I did.
WE ARE GRATEFUL
Veterans have sacrificed themselves to give to our country. I think it is only right that we give to them the respect and benefits they have earned. I believe all Americans should honor veterans on their special day. There are more than 24 million veterans in the United States. Each one of these men and woman has sacrificed something for our country.
I have personally felt what it is like to be close to a veteran. My oldest brother is a Marine who served in Operation Desert Storm. I remember the letters he would write home. They were filled with the sadness of what was happening around him and the hope that the suffering would soon end. He told of how Christmas was going to be especially hard in the barracks. I took one of his letters to school and my class decided to help the soldiers. We made paper chains to decorate the barracks. We made cards to help cheer them. I can still hear my brother’s voice when he called us after the care package had arrived. The soldiers were elated.
They have given us so much. They have sacrificed themselves for our freedom and happiness. All we need to do is show them that they have our respect and care. It is so simple to write a letter and thank someone who has given us our freedom. We can go to a parade. We can visit a VA hospital and talk to a veteran. None of these small acts can compare to what they did for us, but these acts help show our veterans their sacrifices are acknowledged and we are grateful.
Few can deny feeling a wave of respect, admiration, and thankfulness, overwhelm them as the national anthem echoes notes of freedom. Veterans have not only protected the United States; they are the foundation for its prosperity. Veterans Day provides us with an opportunity to appreciate the simple duties and paramount accomplishments of American veterans. Veterans, the architect of American nationalism, hold a more zealous connection to this nation than the majority of ordinary citizens. Veterans set aside their personal lives, goals, and ambitions in order to serve. This unselfish commitment to the United States is unparalleled by any other service. Without their bravery, the American dream would perish. Veterans Day is only one day in November, yet every day that we take advantage of our opportunities as Americans, we pay homage to those whose unselfish service protected us and our way of life.
THE COURAGE TO SERVE
What is a veteran? The answer is as complex and diverse as the individual experiences of those who served. What do these people all have in common? Why are they special? Their service to their country, in whatever capacity, helped shape our lives. The combined efforts of these people have secured our freedom and protected our rights and the rights of those who are oppressed. In a time when liberty and justice needed defending, when there is threat of invasion and occupation of those who would destroy democracy and human rights, there are some who step forward and rise to the challenge of protecting those things we value. They are veterans.
THE GREATEST GIFT
These people, who were willing to give of themselves to accomplish a goal for the good of many, are veterans. They are a population that is very deserving of praise and admiration for all that they did. Veterans are most special people that understand what the Stars and Stripes are all about. They know that for each star there are millions of people that needed their strength. This compelled them to serve. Even in the heat of battle with the possibility of imminent death lingering over their heads, veterans were fighting to protect liberty and justice for all. That is true honor, a concept foreign to many in today's society. It is however, a concept that rings true still today and should be cherished as part of American culture and put on a pedestal right next to our national treasures. In this way veterans gave the greatest gift.