By Tom Demerly.
Private E-2 Jerome Davis from Corpus Christi, Texas is 18 years old. It is his eighth day of basic combat training at the U.S. Army Infantry School, Sand Hill, Fort Benning, Georgia. It’s 88 degrees out today with 71% humidity and only 5:00 AM, or 05:00, in the morning. Private Davis is on the PT (Physical Training) field doing “mountain climbers”, sit-ups and push-ups. Lots of push ups.
He hasn’t written a book about himself, but he is a Veteran.
Specialist E-4 Lashonda Davis of Mobile, Alabama is 20 years old. She is at Ft. Rucker, Alabama learning how to work on helicopters. She studies manuals, checklists, written procedures and maintenance schedules from 06:00 to 21:00 every day. She wants to be a crew chief on a $6.2 million dollar Army Blackhawk helicopter. In less than four years, she will achieve her goal.
There are no movies about Specialist Davis. But she is a Veteran.
Lance Corporal Alan Mayfield, United States Marine Corps, from Madison, Wisconsin says he gets up in the morning, does PT up on the flight deck, holds map reading, communications and weapons maintenance classes with his squad between breakfast and lunch, does more PT in the afternoon, then “sits around and watches movies or plays games” the rest of the day on the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) in the Pacific during a long deployment at sea. “It’s pretty boring,” he says. When he is not at sea he is stationed at Camp Pendleton, California as part of a U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Force.
Lance Corporal Mayfield has never been paid to give a speech about himself. But he is a Veteran.
Maurice Fregia is a police officer in Houston, Texas now. He was in the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He parachuted into Grenada on 25 October, 1983 to help secure the airport at Point Salinas. He went on to be a part of an intelligence unit attached to the 82nd at Fort Bragg before leaving the Army to be a police officer in his hometown.
There are no video games with Maurice Fregia in them, but he is a Veteran.
According to Wikipedia there are 1,369,532 people in the active U.S. military and another 850,880 in the reserve components. Less than 0.5% of the population of the U.S. serves in the military but they provide security for the other 99.5% of Americans. Only half a percent of the population, many of them young and with only a basic education, provide security and enforce U.S. doctrine in nearly 150 countries around the world. All for the rest of us. So we are safe.
But while one-half of one percent of our population assures our security, that small minority makes up 40% of our homeless population. A fact that is perhaps our greatest national disgrace.
There are no books, movies, TV shows, video games, documentaries or speaking tours about any of them. Every day, around the world, they do their difficult, long, cold, tiring, tedious, complex, boring, hot, wet, uncomfortable, lonely, frightening jobs without recognition, with minimal praise except from their peers and family, and with modest and humble character.
They do this so that we can remain insulated from a world where security and freedom is granted to only a privileged few, and often on the backs of a subjugated many.
Today is Veteran’s Day and we recognize the efforts of this quiet culture of humble sentinels.
So while you may enjoy a book about chiseled men from stealth helicopters on daring raids in foreign countries, those books never tell the millions of stories of hard working Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen that we recognize on this day.
Today, you may be well served to reflect upon their contributions to our liberty and freedom. Their story will never be on the big screen, the game console or the bestseller list. But it is no less heroic and selfless.