John Hollis: A better way toward peace
I, for one, wish there was no such thing as a veteran.
Just think what it would mean if one day, far far in the future, a student is doing research on ancient languages and comes across the term "veteran." It's a word that's totally foreign to him. For help he turns to his professor to explain this strange word.
The professor explains to him that in the distant past, people used to resort to violence to settle their differences because those ancient people too often thought their religion was the only real one, that their race should rule all others, that freedom and riches should only belong to their tribe or nation and they couldn't — or wouldn't — find a way to compromise.
The man of learning then explains that nations too often had to fight those who attempted to take their freedoms or who tried to force their way of life on other societies, and those who did the fighting were called veterans.
The young student appears to listen, but to himself he's thinking, "Yeah, right."
Contrary to what that future student might think, veterans are a fact of life today and without them our world would be totally different.
Suppose there were no veterans of World War II. How different would our world be today, without their suffering and valor turning the tide against Hitler's and Mussolini's and Hirohito's troops? Suppose there were no Korean War veterans? Would all of Korea be the starving enslaved nation North Korea is today? How would the world be different without the sacrifice of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans?
And now we have a new generation of veterans; soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who continue to be called upon to stem the tide of those trying to drag the world back to the 14th century where freedom is unknown, and where kings, emperors and religious fanatics rule and all must kneel or die.
Sadly some of them will die, some will come home without arms or legs and some — in their minds — won't come home at all.
They will do their duty, whatever it is, in the hope that someday there will be no need for veterans. Until that day comes along, these brave men and women will continue to protect us and will be our honored veterans.
But until that happens, this nation must stand with its veterans who have always come forward to protect it.
This nation must honor its promises to its veterans with the best medical care for the injured. It must lend a hand to veterans to help him or her transition back to civilian life and gain the education to be a success. It must not forget those veterans who can't make that transition and now live on its streets corners, back alleys and river bottoms. It must respect its military retirees who voluntarily gave 20, 30 or even 40 years of their lives doing the nation's bidding throughout the country and the world.
Today in Marysville, and across the nation, crowds will turn out to show their respect and admiration for America's veterans. That's good, but it's not enough. This nation must be the leader, showing the world a better way to peace, tolerance and a world where the word "veteran" is consigned to history.