Why thank a vet?
Is it the long hours? The dirt and grime and hunger and dehydration and risk to life and limb in combat or even training?
Veterans — whether military, firefighters, law enforcement or others that put service above risk — do something different than those they serve. They prioritize their lives so that the most important things in life are not on the top. They put such service, with its attendant risk, above their loved ones, at least for a time.
But it is a time that can cost them everything, including, ironically, what it is they serve to protect: their relationships, friendships, marriages. Not to mention their health and their very lives.
Sometimes, veterans feel that no one understands. But there are those who do — our brothers and sisters in service. And therein lies our bond: shared sacrifice.
When we are kneeling in the filth, cradling our bleeding battle buddies, praying they will hold on, it is not a bond with a foundation in the tequila shots and endless beers and fish stories or even shared adventures that regularly beat us to a pulp, mind, body, spirit. It is because they are a son or a daughter, a husband or wife, a father or mother. And they are our friends. And their sacrifice is ours, and ours theirs (because they would likely not trade places with us in that bloody dirt).
Such service is about a three-way bond. It is a bond between those we serve, and it is between those with whom we serve.
Veterans or not, there are those who will, and those who will never, understand what that risk — and what war — is really about. It is about that bond.
That bond is aloha. That bond is love.
Joseph A D’Angelo