Veteran's Month, 2017.... Random Thoughts...

November is Veteran's Month... at least to this fading old Marine. It's a month in which we celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday. It's a month in which we set aside one day, November 11, to honor our veterans. This day, when I was a boy, was called Armistice Day. The day was to remember the end of the War to End All Wars, World War I. Unfortunately, this was not to be. We continue to fight wars all over the world. Our Veterans, and those brave souls in other countries, continue to put themselves in harms way in order to preserve freedom and independence from those who would enslave or force their beliefs on us. 
 A few years ago, I started to reflect on those who stepped up and stepped out to defend the defenseless. These men and women never asked the religion of those whom they were fighting for. They never asked political bent, nor ethnicity, or if they were rich or poor. They did what they did because they belonged to a society that believes in certain freedoms.
 By the same token, those of us who served consider it an honor to have done so. We never questioned religion, political party, or even national origin of the men and women who served along side of us. From the day we reported, we became part of something larger than ourselves. It was a big, tumultuous family that was comprised of people of all genders. all religions, all ethnicities. Like all families, we fought amongst ourselves at times, but we fought together to defend what we believed to be right. I served with people named Tony, Joe, Pete, Paul, and other good 'American' names. I also served along people named Pasquale, Jose, Muhammed, and others. Also good 'American' names. They are American because this country is comprised of families whose roots started in countries from around the world, for we are, in truth, a nation of immigrants.
  We live in a time where those who are supposed to lead our country, those who are supposed to unite us and bring us peace, instead seek to divide us. They point fingers at certain groups among us and seek to isolate them. During times of crisis, they inflame the situation by calling names and demonizing groups, religions, the press, and the loyal opposition in order to take the spotlight from their own failures. The sad thing is that so many will blindly follow and believe anything that they say. 
  We must not lose sight of the fact that so many of us served with honor in defense of freedom. We must remember that those of us who did never questioned each others beliefs, because when you got right down to it, what we believed in was this country, and the right of all to believe as they wished. We must not lose sight of the fact that those who serve today, men and women, are from all religions, all colors, all ethnic groups and that they serve because they believe in freedom for all.
  I know that this has been a rambling post, and I apologize. There are so many things going through my head today, and I wanted to salute the veterans who served in all wars and to thank them for their service. We are still free because of the sacrifices of those who came before us. I especially wish to thank those of the Greatest Generation who fought against the Axis powers. If they had won, I don't know how many of us would be around today. I do know that we would not be free to express ourselves, as I am doing now.
  So, thank you Veterans! You never thought of yourselves, or the fact that you were putting yourselves in harms way. You just did it, and I salute you. I am eternally grateful for what you did.
  To my Brother and Sisters who served, and continue to serve, in the United States Marine Corps: You are my extended family... and I am so proud of you all. Semper Fidelis! Take some time today to lift a glass to our beloved Corps, and those who came before.
  To my fellow citizens: Take time during the year.... especially during this Veteran's Month and Veteran's Day, to give thanks to those who stand ready to protect and defend you at a moment's notice. Theirs is a perilous duty to which they have dedicated themselves.
 Thank You

                                                John Zaffino Kent Lakes, New York, November 10, 2017


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