I am an American Veteran

There are those who have held up November 11, 2011 as some sort of a special numerical festival. They seem to see something special in 11/11/11. That is something about which I am neither here nor there. No. what really counts for me is what happened...

Compared to many of my buddies in the Newark Fire Department, my wartime journey was just a walk in the park. Heck, I was in the Air Force. A number of my buddies were wounded and carry the scars of that conflict to this very day. But I am proud of my service. 
Our nation is seen as a beacon for freedom in many parts of the world. Unfortunately there are those who want to see our great nation eradicated from the face of the Earth. The events of the past decade have riveted this fact into our hearts and our minds. 
However, in the year 2011, the burden of defending our nation has fallen upon a small fraction of our population. Though we have lost thousands killed in the conflicts of the last decade, life in America has continued apace. While you and I have been shopping at Wal-Mart, the men and women of our armed forces have been suffering a horrifying array of devastating war wounds. My friends, many in our nation are now coasting along based upon the sacrifices of a very few. Perhaps it has always been that way. 
Anyway, it was with a great deal of pride that I went forth on Veteran's Day wearing my Vietnam Veteran's hat. My son, Father Todd called me to offer his best wishes to me for Veteran's Day. He has done that every day for years now. It was also gratifying to hear a number of young people thank me for my service. That was not the norm back during the stormy days of the 1960's.
As I sat out on my porch this afternoon enjoying a well-earned Veteran' Day cigar, I paused to say a prayer for an old high school football buddy Gerry Connors, a U.S. Marine who died of wounds received in Vietnam back in 1968. He and I were on the football team for three years and came to be good friends. His death still has an impact upon me. Just remember that his is but one of the more than 58,000 people who were lost in that far away struggle. My story can be multiplied thousands of times.
Yes, I was but one among millions who served. But that has been a source of great personal pride throughout my life and my time in the fire service. So please forgive a grey-haired old rascal for taking a few moments to share his pride in serving the United Stated of America. 
To all of my fellow veterans, thank you for a job well-done. To all of my fellow firefighters, take a moment and thank a veteran for your freedom.