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mtj
11.11.16, 8:59 AM
WHAT IS A VET?
by Anthony Barton Hinkle

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's alloy forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.
He is the Nebraska farmer who worries every year that this time, the bank really will foreclose.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 39th Parallel.
She or he is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another or didn't come back at all.
He is the Quantico drill instructor who never has seen combat but who has saved countless lives by turning slouchy no-'counts into soldiers, and teaching them to watch each others' backs.
He is the parade-riding legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the anonymous hero in the Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the other anonymous heroes whose valor died unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket palsied now and aggravatingly slow who helped liberate a Nazi death camp, and who wishes all day long his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs. He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

Agent99
11.11.16, 9:41 AM
Beautiful.

Mike
11.11.16, 11:38 AM
More often than not, a vet is just a person you bump into, or pass by, somewhere and don't even realize it.

This has really come to my awareness since my folks moved to assisted living several years ago. Regular, "ordinary" people. You wouldn't know it unless you asked, or happened to be at the assisted living place when the Veterans' Day bulletin board goes up.

One of the ladies at my Mom's table in the dining room was a nurse anesthetist in WWII. One dear lady who passed away this year was a WASP and flight instructor in WWII. There was a retired priest who was a chaplain in the war. Almost all of the men who live there were in the armed forces during either WWII, Korea, or Vietnam. And in their way, all of the spouses are veterans too.

You just wouldn't know it. They're just folks.

Agent99
11.11.16, 3:55 PM
http://i218.photobucket.com/albums/cc289/Agent99_bucket/IMG_4194_zpsultmgh3y.jpg (http://s218.photobucket.com/user/Agent99_bucket/media/IMG_4194_zpsultmgh3y.jpg.html)

Here is a photo of Agent 86 getting a pin at the Veterans Day ceremony in our town. It's the 50th anniversary of the Viet Nam war and the Viet Nam vets were singled out today. It was very nice (but very cold) and that is why he looks like a burglar.