Three years ago I had the opportunity to speak at Fort Bragg. I was invited by Lieut. Gen. John F Mulholland of the Special Forces – 3rd group. It was an amazing honor to be able to meet so many wonderful individuals serving our country.
It was an interesting experience. I had trouble traveling; herniated two of my discs in my lower back getting off the airplane (it took me the better part of the next six months to recover) and was in excruciating pain while I began speaking. But, very quickly I forgot about my pain.
Born a congenital amputee, there was no way I was ever going to serve our nation’s military. I often think about the importance of every American serving in some capacity. My 26-year-old son Haydon works for the national
parks fighting forest fires. While not every American can serve in the military, I believe all Americans should serve this nation in some capacity for 2 to 3 year period of time. It should not fall upon the ‘one-percent’ of this nation to keep our freedom – our way of living – for one hundred percent of this nation.
Recently I have the opportunity to meet Rick Burns, at the request of WMHT public television. I was asked to sit on a panel after screening of Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History (WMHT – Debt of Honor premieres Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 9 p.m. ET). Burns produced this documentary talking to and about United States disabled veterans and provided a historical perspective over the past 200 years. In the documentary, two of my personal heroes were interviewed – former US Sen. Max Cleveland and US Representative Tammy Duckworth. I found Rick Burns documentary engrossing. It reminded me so much of the men and women I met at Fort Bragg three years ago.
This Veterans Day, I’m reminded how much we forget the service provided by our military. We can hang a green light in the United States (if Walmart actually had them at my local store) and we can display a red poppy on our lapel if we are Canadian/British during November. But, we should always remember the service provided to us, is provided by very dedicated people.
At Fort Bragg three years ago, I met a young man whom I played backyard football with growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire. When we were 13 years old, we smiled and laughed about our lives ahead. We worried more about how fast the football arrived rather than what was arriving for us as adults. In looking in his eyes, I noticed he witnessed much more than I ever have. But, we both have lived lives not many do.
This Veterans Day, remember those that have served and those that will serve. We all are called to serve in some capacity for our country and a better world.