October 8, 2003 - Veteran's Day - 2003
Veteran's Day provides each of us the opportunity to reflect on the past, consider the present and set sail for the future.
Reflection on the past is understandable when you realize this day of observance is woven into the very fabric of our nation and strengthened by each passing time of remembrance.
The '11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of every year is set aside to honor America's veterans. Historically, it marks the exact time the guns fell silent in World War I , that War to end all Wars. The first day of remembrance in November came in 1926, eight years after the war's end. Congress passed a resolution calling for all Americans to observe this day to mark the cessation of the most destructive and far-reaching war in human history. Since the 1920s, our nation has continued to set aside this special day to remember those who fought for the freedoms all American's enjoy.
However, our time of remembrance must not be seen as a time for 'Old Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen' to focus on the past. The word 'veteran' is not synonymous with old. Our nation is making new veterans every day as more young men and women take the oath of enlistment.
The war on terrorism is painful and personal. It is a war against an ideology not a nation. It is a war where many of our brave warriors cannot look across a field and see an "enemy." For the enemy is faceless and yet has a thousand faces.
When these heroes put away their uniforms, many of them will carry the scars, both physical and emotional -- of honorable military service. The scars veterans bear are the cost of freedom.
On this Veteran's Day we should remember those young men from Indiana who lost their lives in the Global War on Terrorism. They are:
Army Specialist Ronald D. Allen Jr., 22, of Mitchell, Indiana. Died on August 25, 2003.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Craig A. Boling, 38, of Elkhart, Ind. Died on July 8, 2003.
Army Specialist Roy Russell Buckley, 24, Portage, Indiana. Died on April 22, 2003
Army Specialist Brian Clemens, 19, Peru, Indiana. Died on February 6, 2003.
Marine Lance Corporal David K. Fribley, 26, of Fort Myers, FL. A graduate of Warsaw Community High School, Warsaw, Indiana, David died on March 23, 2003.
Army Private Jesse M. Halling, 19, of Indianapolis, Indiana. Died June 7, 2003.
Army Specialist William A. Jeffries, 39, of Evansville, Indiana. Died on March 31, 2003.
Army Sgt. Chad Lynn Keith, 21, of Batesville, Ind. Died on July 7, 2003.
Army Pvt. Robert L. McKinley, 23, of Kokomo, Ind. Died on July 8, 2003.
Army Pfc, Jason M. Meyer, 23, of Swartz Creek, Michigan. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Jason died on April 8, 2003.
Army Staff Sgt Frederick L. Miller Jr., 27, of Hagerstown, Indiana. Died September 20, 2003.
Army Pvt. Shawn D. Pahnke, 25, of Shelbyville, Indiana. Died on June 16, 2003.
Marine Sgt. Duane R. Rios, 25, Griffith, Indiana. Died on April 4, 2003.
Army Specialist Gregory P. Sanders, 19, of Hobart, Indiana. Died on March 24, 2003.
Marine Lance Corporal Matthew R. Smith, 20, of Anderson, Indiana. Died on May 10, 2003.
Not long ago, a woman named Christy Ferer traveled to Iraq along with the USO. She'd lost her husband at the World Trade Center on September 11th, and she wanted to say 'thank you' to the troops in Baghdad.
She wrote a wonderful piece about her trip, and in it, she wondered why our soldiers would want to see her, when they could see the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, movie stars and a model. When the soldiers heard that a trio of September 11th family members were there, she found out why. Young service members, men and women in Iraq, but who came from all over America, rushed to the trio, eager to touch them and talk to them. One soldier, a mother of two, told Christy she'd enlisted because of September 11th. Another soldier displayed the metal bracelet he wore, engraved with the name of a victim of 9-11. Others came forward with memorabilia from the World Trade Center they carried with them into Baghdad.
And when it was Christy's turn to present General Tommy Franks with a piece of steel recovered from the Twin Towers, she saw this great soldier's eyes well up with tears.
Then, she watched as they streamed down his face on center stage before 4,000 troops.
To those who think the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the global war against terrorism tell that to our troops.
Throughout America's history, military veterans have served this country with honor, commitment and courage. To every one of them, America must say 'thank you.'
So, on this Veteran's Day, it is our duty and solemn obligation to remember those who have served and are serving now. They are joined together in a common bond of service to assure this nation remains the land of the free and the home of the brave. We must remember that the blood of patriots has purchased the freedoms we enjoy.
May God bless our veterans and our great nation.