Hooah!: Veterans Day

Chad Graden

There is no such thing as being overly patriotic. I joined the military because every time I heard the American Anthem I got goosebumps. I love this country, and I love all the good and bad things that come with it. Being an American is the greatest privilege we have on this earth. When 9/11 occurred, I was so upset; I tried to enlist that very day. If I have the ability to vote for people that send others to war, then I have the ability– and duty– to go myself.

I love that that we honor our Veterans; they deserve it. We didn’t always, though, and some of our heroes were mistreated. I am very grateful that our nation has come to the point where we can all basically agree on supporting our troops, even if we don’t agree with war.

However, with all the good, there is always the bad. I hate how we have turned this holiday into a marketing day for certain businesses. With all the free services Veterans get on this day, it really makes me wonder which companies are truly thankful, and which companies just offer services for the sake of making a name for themselves.

There are those who take advantage of this day. There are people who have not served who pose as Veterans to get free food or whatever. It’s called stolen valor, and it only makes the real Veterans look bad. It also mocks everything Veterans do for the this country.

Then there are those who went to basic training, sprained an ankle or something, and then left for home. Or, they left for basic, got scared, and came home. Those are the ones I hate the most. These people did not serve our country even though they claim they did.

Veterans Day, for a lot of combat Vets, is looked at as “Happy Survivors Day.” Some of us lost dear friends and battle buddies in war. While we are back home with our families enjoying a free meal at Applebee’s, the guilt sets in that some of our friends– who paid the ultimate price– are not able to do these things. They don’t get free food or hero treatment, because they are gone. I experience survivor’s guilt. I often wonder why I survived when many others did not. I lost twelve friends on one deployment alone. Some of those guys were better men than I can ever be.

My point is that I am thankful for how far we have come in our treatment of our Veterans, but it almost seems like we have gone too far. For some combat Vets, it’s a day full of guilt; we never honor ourselves, we only honor our fallen. For some, every day of our lives is haunted by those we’ve lost; so, instead of celebrating Veterans Day one day of the year, we celebrate Memorial Day, everyday.

The perfect way to pay respects to a Veteran is to simply say “thank you” and not to treat that person any differently than anyone else.