Annually we pay tribute to the men and women who’ve served and sacrificed for sake of our nation. Now known as Veterans Day, Armistice Day was set aside as a day to honor those who’d served during World War I (WWI). But with several major wars following Armistice Day was converted to Veterans Day to commemorate ALL veterans of ALL wars.
Today, we celebrate Veterans Day every November 11th in honor of our nation’s men and women who braved the call of duty in uniform in support of our armed forced. .
During the 66th Annual Veterans Day Observance ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater, Vice President Mike Pence spoke with honor and gratitude as he addressed the heroism of our nation’s veterans. In his statement, Pence recognized aloud that “every veteran of the armed forces of the United States is a hero to the American people.” (Cronk, 2019).
Pence challenged every American to extend gratitude to those who’ve served in uniform.
What he didn’t do was place exceptions on his challenge.
His words did not exclude nor warrant partiality.
He said “every veteran.”
Why then do we, as a nation, have the tendency to leave some feeling so outcast and forgotten?
Directly spoken from an incarcerated soldier himself on Veterans Day were words that left me pining for every veteran to feel honored for their service. “We are just the forgotten veterans.”
My heart crumbled at his words.
With reassuring love I responded with words of affirmation to ensure that he knew he and his fellows inmates are far from being the forgotten veterans. Lest we forget the service and sacrifice of the forgotten veterans — they who’ve been reduced to but a reg number by the UCMJ.
They, too, embarked on a journey of bravery and courage.
They, too, wore the same uniform, lost brothers and sisters to war, and still suffer the longterm effects.
They, too, have filled their lungs with the same middle-eastern dust, spent time barricaded in the same bunkers, and traveled the same IED affixed routes as their counterparts.
The reality … even the incarcerated veteran is a veteran.
We have men and women who’ve served our country yet somewhere along the way they found themselves face to face with the United States Military Justice System. I’m not here to speak on a system’s justices or injustices or the offenses for which they’ve been convicted but rather to bring light to the fact that while a criminal is still a human so a convicted service-member is still a veteran.
So today, a day observed in honor of our nation’s veterans, we honor every veteran. Past, present, wounded, convicted, incarcerated, discharged …
May we be a nation that extends grace and honor toward every veteran — both the remembered and the forgotten.
And may every veteran, today and every day, be honored for their service and sacrifice to this nation. Regardless.