Thank you, Veterans. Thank you for committing your life to defend the United States of America. Thank you for sacrificing time, family, friends, and health in order to serve. You were called to this profession, much like a preacher, a teacher, or a doctor are called to theirs. You are warriors with a servant heart. Your service to our country has not been forgotten or overlooked. The consequences of putting on the uniform are reflected in who you are, no matter how many days you served, where you served, or how long ago you committed to Uncle Sam. If you have been tagged to this article by someone you know, it is because they are proud to know you. We are humbly grateful for the freedoms you defended. You stepped up to the plate when we didn’t.
Matt King, E5-Sergeant, US Army, 2008-2015, 11B (Infantry), 2 Tours in Iraq 2009, 2010-2011
“Being in the military changed me. It made me see life differently, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I met lifelong friends and lost lifelong friends. It’s an experience I will never forget and although there were difficult times, the memories and bonds I made and the gratification that came with serving my country was worth it all.”
Thank you to those who are currently serving. The president describes a veteran as anyone who “has put on the uniform of the United States Military.” Training, sacrifice, love, and duty are at the heart of every hero. A moment of valor is all that separates a medal of honor recipient from the guy or girl next door. You are ready to dirty your boots in another country and take a bullet to defend your fellow soldiers. We are saying prayers for you and those you love.
Angie Falchetti, E4 Specialist, Army Reserve, 1991-1999, Soldier Medic
“It is a call to go into the military. It has its rewards from the heart (which is the utmost best reward one can have). But it is most definitely not a decision that needs to be taken lightly.”
Thank you to the women who raised their right hand and swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States of America. You are our daughters, sisters, and mothers. The Veterans Administration recorded 200,000 veterans living in St. Johns County. A little over ten percent of our military is female. 20,000 women live in our backyard who deserve to be thanked for their service to our country. You hide in our community and are sometimes marginalized for your service. Be proud of the things you have done and stand shoulder to shoulder with our male war heroes.
Virgie Faye Back Barnes, 1st Lieutenant, United States Air Force, 1975-1977, Medical Service Officer–Nurse Corp
“I went in at the end of the Vietnam War. Many of the young men were coming home to an ungrateful nation. I worked as a staff nurse on the maternity unit in all three areas: Labor and Delivery, Postpartum and Nursery. War and death were fresh for the soldiers that returned. I didn’t realize until recently that being able to offer support and care for these families was significant.”
Thank you to the Veterans who don’t think they deserve our gratitude. You don’t need to have stood on the front lines to earn our heartfelt appreciation. It takes many different talents to secure and defend our great nation. If you served in any capacity, you supported and assisted the men and women who did not come home. Some of you refuse to accept our thanks because others sacrificed more. Your grief does not negate the job that you performed. We civilians kiss our children goodnight and fall asleep with full bellies in a soft bed. We did not accept the job that you took. You did not shy away from your duty; You ran toward the fray, shouldering the responsibilities that we did not. That is worth a multitude of thanks.
Kimberly Arthur, E-1, US Army, 2001-2002.
“I don’t feel like I’m a real veteran. I did sign on the dotted line, but I never got a chance to do much. Everyone I went to basic training with deployed within a year. Some were killed. It doesn’t make me feel good to be thanked because half way through basic combat training I fell gravely ill with pneumonia. I was hospitalized and then given convalescent leave, but due to the living conditions and duration of my pneumonia, I was unable to recover quickly enough to graduate with my class. At that point, the Army decided it was best to give me an uncharacterized discharge. I finally recovered at home, two months later. I chose to become an American when I was sixteen because I wanted to serve in the military for the country I came to as a baby. I was adopted from the Philippines, and this country gave me life and opportunity.”
How can we further honor our Veterans this November?
- Vote whenever polls are open. Vote for your local community as well as our country at large. Voting shows enormous respect for those who fought to protect our rights as Americans.
- Go to the Grand Parade at 11 AM in front of the Castillo de San Marcos. Cheer on 1,500 marchers who are made up of veterans, active duty groups, ROTC, and re-enactors in military dress. There will be a flyover of vintage WWII planes and current military aircraft. This is an excellent event for moms with small children. It is an exciting way to introduce little ones to the men and women in our military. Visit here for more information.
- Go to the Corazon Theatre on the 11th, 12th and 13th of November to view a series of documentaries featuring the stories of local veterans who have served the country, including “K9s for Warriors: Unleashing the Underdog,” “Serve and Protect: Stories of Coquina Crossing World War II Veterans,” “Prisoners of War: Stolen Freedom,” “Korea: Forgotten War, Remembered Heroes,” and “Vietnam: Service, Sacrifice and Courage.” All the films are free and open to the public. Visit here for show times.
- Support the families of Veterans. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they need help. Mothers could use a babysitter, a play date, or a coffee. Widows and widowers would love a visit, an invitation to dinner or help with yard work. These families sacrifice along with their soldiers. Be there to encourage them.
- Support our local State Veteran’s Nursing Home. You can donate needed items or can visit the residents. The residents love small children and appreciate cards, singing, and good conversation. Please call 940-2193 and ask for extension 2225 to schedule a visit or provide donations.
- Find YOUR veteran. It can be a family member, a neighbor or a friend. Buy them a cup of coffee. Ask them to tell you their story. Look them in the eye, shake their hand, and with humble gratitude, thank them.
This was my Veteran. Coy Eugene Back (1/17/24 – 6/23/16), Disabled Veteran, US Army BAR team, Okinawa, 1945-1946
You can read his story here