“Rest well, yet sleep lightly; and hear the call, if again sounded, to provide ‘firepower for freedom.’” -Captain Robert C. Peniston, Battleship New Jersey Decommissioning Ceremony (1969)
Veterans Day is to commemorate the servicemembers who served in the United States Armed Forces. Since the elimination of the draft in 1973, the United States of America has protected itself and its allies with an all-volunteer force of individuals who pledged their lives to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Implicit in the pledge is the willingness to sacrifice one’s own life and well-being to safeguard the blessings of liberty (although to paraphrase the famous World War II General, George S. Patton, the best way to win a war is to make the other person die for their country rather than dying for one’s own).
I am proud of my military service. I spent my entire military career overseas. I was able to explore South Korea, Germany, France and Ireland. I directly contributed to the United States’ mission of stabilizing Afghanistan so that democracy could take root and traditionally marginalized people, such as women, could find new economic opportunities for themselves and their families. Among the women who were able to soar to new heights during my time in country was Niloofar Rahmani, Afghanistan’s first female fixed-wing pilot. My participation in the Afghan War ties me to the fraternity of arms from the Revolutionary War to the present and makes me directly invested in the welfare of this nation for life.
However, Veterans Day is a bitter holiday for me. I dislike being thanked for my service. Whenever I am thanked, I think of Sergeant Enrique Mondragon, a fellow trooper of the Special Troops Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade who was killed in action by small arms fire during a patrol on Christmas Eve 2012 at the age of 23, leaving behind a wife and a child. I think of the hundreds of rockets which rained down on Forward Operating Base Shank, one of which permanently paralyzed a comrade I served with in South Korea with the 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion of the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade. I think of the fall of Afghanistan during the U.S. withdrawal in 2021, eight years after I fought in that country. I left the war and service alive and uninjured while my siblings in arms were buried or scarred. For five minutes each day, Memorial Day is every day for me.
Within every veteran you encounter is an aspect of their military service which replays itself every day. Sometimes it’s good, like off duty shenanigans with their buddies. Sometimes it’s bad, like the loss of a friend. Veterans sacrificed their time, physical, and mental health on behalf of a cause greater than themselves with the hope that the cause will be worthy of their sacrifice. As citizens, it is our duty to ensure that the armed conflicts this nation engages in are worthy of the service-members who volunteer to fight the battles on our behalf. As a nation, it is our duty to ensure that the veterans who come home are provided opportunities to reintegrate themselves into a peaceful society where all are provided equal rights, opportunity, and dignity under law.
To thank a veteran, think of how you can be useful to society. Do something to make the world you leave better than the world you find. Practice kindness, stay informed, and enjoy the freedoms and rights we take for granted that immigrants from around the world strive to enjoy. We have two friendly neighbors and an ocean on both sides of this country – other nations are not so fortunate.
The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur. To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit www.dioriosereni.com or contact Paul M. Carrion, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected].
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