Every year on Veteran’s Day, TSS walks down to the service at the memorial in downtown Lyndonville. The veterans from the VFW have given the School awards thanking us for our attendance. This year, they asked Director Julie Hansen to speak at the services.
Thank you for inviting me to speak today. I speak as a grateful outsider; I cannot claim to know what you have experienced. I have never served, never had to wake in the dawn and load myself up with gear that pushed me into the face of danger in a land far from my home.
I speak as the citizen who remains safe at home. Yesterday, after school, we had a soccer game with the parents and teachers against our soccer team. It was a beautiful fall twilight. As I watched the children and their parents laughing I thought of children in other parts of the world where gunfire and bombs are a routine part of their day.
I happened to look across the russet sunset sky, and the silhouette of the American flag was flying high on the flag pole on top of Lyndon Institute.
We played freely on that field thanks to you. You leave your homes, your families, your friends and say to us, “I’m going to keep the trouble over there, far from you.”
It is challenging to adequately thank you for that.
Right now, there are military personnel deployed in about 150 countries – that’s 75% of the world’s nations. It is important to make that abstract number real for our children, for our students, and yet, because of our safety, it is a struggle to do so.
Our best solution is to stand here with you today, to see you face to face, and to shake your hand and thank you for your service. Last time we were here, a woman who had served at Pearl Harbor was in attendance. That resonated with me because my father was wounded and lost the use of one arm as a result of that infamous day. So the effects of war were real to me. He still jumped a foot whenever a car backfired –cars used to do that.
We have always honored the WWII vets and rightly so.
For me, I want to speak of my generation’s war, and to say out loud that we must also honor our Vietnam vets, who were not greeted with the same love and respect. To those of you who fought over there or served at that time, we say, now, welcome home. And I say, we owe you an apology. We hope that our presence here today, with you, to honor you now, is some salve to the wounds inflicted from that unpopular war.
George Orwell said that “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because other men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Thank you being those men and women. Thank you for your service. Thank you for being a part of our community.