0 Comments | Nov 11, 2010

A Veteran’s Day Salute

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Zoescent blogs normally cover business topics, but on Veteran’s Day, it’s good for us to take a minute to dwell on more important things.

As a military veteran and former fighter pilot, I’ve had the privilege of returning to American soil after fighting in three conflicts.  Each time I returned, it was beautiful, moving, and emotional.

While the dangers my friends and I faced were real, and a few of us died every year in both peacetime and war, the environment in which we served our country is nowhere near as grueling and vicious as the environment that thousands of ground personnel face every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a white-knuckle combat mission, we returned to the safety and comfort of an airbase hundreds of miles from the fighting.  American ground soldiers aren’t so lucky. Many are in jeopardy continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Land mines, roadside bombs, ambushes, insurgents (often dressed as American soldiers), teenage suicide bombers, mortar attacks, and the continuous weight of year-long separation from family and friends, all take an incredibly heavy toll.  Many return home for a few short months to “reconstitute,” which is a tidy term that glosses over all the messiness of trying to piece life back together momentarily before returning to the fight.

The unfortunate reality is that those folks often aren’t the same when they return home.  Adjusting to “normal” life is disorienting, painful, and, for some, virtually impossible.  Thousands have suffered grisly physical injuries that will impact the rest of their lives.  Many more suffer mental and emotional wounds that are equally shattering but significantly less straightforward to treat.  Thousands aren’t coming home.  And each individual tragedy affects dozens of friends and family members.

I am in awe of those men and women, and their families, and humbled by their courage and sacrifice.

America is truly an incredible invention, a place where a few folks and an idea like Vacation Wellness™ can take root and take wing.  We think it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that American society stands on the shoulders of giants, enjoying the amazing view.  Many of those giants are too young to vote, too courageous to back down, and too generous to spare themselves.

It is difficult for most of us to fathom the debt we owe to the men and women who braved and bested danger on the ground in hostile lands.

At a military funeral, the commanding officer passes a folded American flag to the bereaved with the words, “On behalf of a grateful nation.”

May we always be a grateful nation.  And may we always live with humble determination to “earn this.”