My dad was a war hero. He served in the 4th Marine Division in World War II. He landed on Iwo Jima and other islands in the south Pacific. He was at the foot of the hill when the famous picture was taken of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. He was one of many heroes of that war. When the war was over the heroes quietly returned and picked up their lives. Their lives during and after the war earned them the title Greatest Generation. Their nation responded to the heroes by establishing college benefits, assists with home loans. Special heroes were given medals and became respected leaders in their communities.
I would never compare my service with my Dad’s. I served in the Navy in the Vietnam era. I was in the Navy for over eleven years. I went to Vietnam twice. However, I served safely on an aircraft carrier and I saw no real action and did not kill anyone or see anyone be killed. Many of my friends did. Our return home was very different from that of my Dad’s generation. We were spit on. When my ship returned from war, garbage was thrown down on our flight deck while we stood in formation. When on leave in San Francisco many would wear wigs so as not to be identified as military. Our war wasn’t popular and neither were we, the baby killers, they called us. Many of our “heroes” became drug addicts, homeless, or just never got over their post traumatic syndromes. Our nation’s failure to deal with our “issues” is a disgrace.
Tyler is one of my heroes. He married my special girl, Jessica. He’s helping raise Kaydence. He served in a war that started out popular and ended up not so much so. The failure of the Veterans Administration to meet the needs of his generation is now a news item, sometimes. The stories of this generation of heroes is still being written. Tyler’s will be a success story. I can tell by the way he handles himself, his family and his life. I wasn’t kidding when I said he’s one of my heroes. I’m not so sure about many of the others that served. We are not treating them like my dad was treated. I guess we aren’t treating them as badly as my friends and I were treated. That’s not good enough. We need to treat them like the heroes they are. It’s important.
It’s not just important that we honor those who served. I remember well years after my service when at a Promise Keepers meeting all the Vets were asked to stand. We were given a standing ovation. I had never been thanked for my service before. I was one of many who openly wept.
It’s important we learn to honor others in general. As Christians we don’t honor our “heroes” like we should. We underpay pastors and missionaries. We forget the service of those who watch our kids and tell them about Jesus in children’s church. Lack of gratitude is epidemic. If we aren’t thankful to those who serve in uniform, we will never understand and appreciate the work and sacrifice of those who work behind the scenes every day of our lives.
It’s Veterans Day. Honor someone who served and is serving, whether in uniform or not, whether as a government employee or a dedicated follower of Christ. They don’t do it for the honor but they deserve it and we need to learn the importance of honor and honoring.