Editor’s note: We are devoting today’s Letters to the Editor to a sampling of the many veteran-related letters we have received from our readers over the years.
civility still exist
Nov. 11, 2016
My 89-year-old brother Bob is a Korean War veteran and he lives in Las Vegas. He proudly wears a cap his son gave him with “Korean Vet” on the brim.
He told me that last week he went to his favorite restaurant for dinner wearing the cap. It was a rare occasion because it is an expensive restaurant. While he was waiting for his food, his cane fell to the floor. A young man seated nearby retrieved it for him. Pleasantries were exchanged and they both went back to their meals.
Later, when Bob asked the waitress for his check she said it was paid for by the young man who picked up his cane. The young man had told the waitress to just “tell him I thank him for his service” and he left. Needless to say my brother was overwhelmed with not only the gesture but the reason behind it.
There are many unknown acts like this one when people “act right” and expect nothing in return — and we never hear about them. All is not lost. Civility and goodness still exist.
Thanks to military, America still a beacon
Nov. 11, 2014
Ronald Reagan once said that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
To every person who has served in our nation’s military, I extend my heartfelt appreciation for your sacrifice and your courage. As immigrants from Vietnam almost a generation ago, my family and I appreciate newfound freedoms such as the ability to attend good schools, exercise our faith and to vote. We also understand that these freedoms were not free. They were paid for by those who serve in our military.
Just last week, we were able to vote for the candidates of our choice in a free election. Our freedom to take such an action was and is guaranteed by the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way. For that, I am grateful and humbled.
America still stands as the beacon of freedom and hope. Freedom for those who live in oppression. Hope for those desperate for a better life, such as my family was in 1975. She stands so because of the soldiers who sacrifice time with their own families to protect ours. She stands so because of the courage that is exhibited when one picks up arms and places himself in harm’s way to protect an ideal for all of us.
So on this day of appreciation, I give thanks to the members of our armed forces, present and past, for their courage and willingness to serve our nation.
Don’t forget women’s wartime sacrifices
Nov. 11, 2013
Around Veterans Day, the thoughts of us old-timers turn to our own conflict, the Second World War.
It was a war primarily fought by men. But behind the battles on land, sea and air, women played an important part.
I was privileged to serve in the British Army from 1941 until the end of the war. Our jobs were far from glamorous. We labored in cookhouses and mess halls to feed the troops. We lugged big iron pots of food, scrubbed dozens of mess hall tables and swilled floors the size of a football field.
After the Nazis had conquered almost all of Europe, Britain stood alone. London and other cities were bombed into rubble. Many hundreds of civilians died.
Then in 1941, America entered the war. American airbases sprang up all over the British countryside. Soon Flying Fortresses swept the skies at dawn and headed for targets deep within enemy territory. Victory finally came.
On Veterans Day, when we honor our wartime heroes, let us not forget the women who helped to keep our country free.
Remember all who
have served our nation
Nov. 11, 2011
On Veterans Day we remember those who defended this nation in its many wars. But across the years, we have forgotten many of our nation’s heroes including an unlikely hero — a pigeon named Cher Ami (Dear Friend).
Cher Ami was serving with the U.S. Signal Corps in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Attached to the 77th Division, he was probably not aware that elements of the division were completely surrounded by German forces and were presumed lost.
Carrier pigeons were the last desperate hope to get a message to the American headquarters. Three pigeons were released with messages, but they were all shot down by the Germans. Cher Ami was the only pigeon left; the last hope to get a message to headquarters. A note was attached to his leg, and he was tossed into the sky. Germans opened fire with every weapon they had. Cher Ami’s leg was almost shot off, he was blinded in one eye, and a bullet tore into his body. Gravely wounded, he fell to the ground. But miraculously, Cher Ami managed to get up, flew out of the range of German bullets and carried the message to headquarters. A rescue mission was started, and 194 doughboys of “The Lost Battalion” were saved from death and capture by Cher Ami.
For his heroism, Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm by the French government. Gen. John J. Pershing awarded him a silver medal and personally escorted him from France to a ship bound for the United States.
Never completely recovering, Cher Ami died in 1919. On Nov. 11, we must not forget Cher Ami and those who fought “over there” and elsewhere to make the world safe for democracy.
Walter S. Griggs.
Today’s portly gray-hairs saved the world back then
Nov. 11, 1998
Hopefully, because of “Saving Private Ryan,” this Veterans Day will be observed by more than the usual faithful handful at the Virginia War Memorial. Maybe, for a short time at least on this day, more attention will be paid to that generation of World War II military veterans whose sacrifices for their country were surpassed only by the generation that fought the Civil War.
Maybe at the Memorial some people will take the time to look deeply into the eyes of those graying, slightly portly gentlemen in their late seventies or early eighties, probably wearing their American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars caps. Maybe they’ll see that young man — boy, really — who charged the beach at Iwo Jima or Normandy. Maybe they’ll see the young bomber or fighter pilot or the young shipboard sailor fighting German submarines or Japanese kamikazes. When World War II struck, those men gave up the joys of youth for the sake of their country. They traded the comforts of home for the horrors of the battlefield. They left a peaceful civilian life for a dangerous, uncertain future in uniform. People must always remember that this generation saved America and the Free World from absolute, certain destruction. Make no mistake: Our country, or world, would not exist today as we know it if the Axis powers had won the war.
Sure, folks, have your heroes. Have your Michael Jordans, Troy Aikmans, Tiger Woods, Mark McGwires, et al. But remember who the real heroes are, those overweight, gray-haired old warriors, who still have the eyes of a soldier and the memories of a Private Ryan.
Cornelius T. O’Neill,
Virginia State Adjutant,The American Legion.Midlothian.