There are a couple of times a year where we should take time to remember that this is the home of the free, BECAUSE of the brave. Veteran's Day is one of them.
In football, you can't determine who you play. They give you the schedule, and you work your way through it for better or for worse. In the military, you can't determine where you'll serve. The needs of the military take precedence. You go where they send you: for better or for worse.
I had several great-uncles that served in the Army in World War II and saw varying degrees of action. My grandfathers tried to enlist, but weren't allowed to serve. One for medical reasons and one for family reasons. That generation has now passed, and the flag from one great-uncle's casket has passed to us to keep.
My father served during the Korean War, but in pre-Castro Cuba. That is where the Navy needed him. My father-in-law, who was a few years younger, served in Korea, but after the "peace" was established. Their flags are also in our trust.
Two of my uncles served in the Air Force in Europe, but when their youngest brother was drafted, he was heading to Vietnam. He chose to enlist as a Marine, rather than be drafted into the Army. He could have been home after one tour, but opted for a second tour to stay with "his guys". One of the Air Force veterans is no longer with us.
I've had two cousins go to the Marines in their early twenties and didn't see any action. One later joined the Army Reserve and had tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was over fifty at the time. I served my five years in the Air Force in Colorado, England and Germany. In Germany, we were a refueling stop on the way to the Middle East and Desert Storm. I bought beers for the guys heading over that way. A few other cousins enlisted in the Army and one ended up in Iraq. A good buddy of mine in high school served on an aircraft carrier as a cook, and ended up as a chef for one of our presidents. Another buddy joined the Marines and died on a normal PT run, far from any action.
Whether you saw live fire or flipped burgers for the guys that did. Thank you to all that served or tried to serve. All jobs are critical to the mission. You served where the military needed you.
While this is an American holiday, I'd also like to give thanks to all of those that have served with us and helped us around the world. A special shout out to a group of guys that provided close air support to my uncle in Vietnam. He's pretty sure they were Brits (it was tough to tell for sure through the shelling) and they absolutely saved him and "his guys", which is sometimes hard for a Marine to admit. Thanks for bringing my uncle home to us.