I'm in the process of helping judge the entries for the Patriot's Pen Essay Contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). I'm a member of my local chapter due to my two tours in The Republic of South Korea in the mid 1980's. Here's the link for this contest and while this years contest is closed, this is an annual contest that all middle school students really should enter. The link also provides information on other contests such as the Voice of Democracy for High School students.
As you would expect there are some interesting entries given the grade level of the participants but I have to take a moment and mention just how impressed I am with quite a few of the entries and the insight that these young people have as to why we should honor our veterans which is the theme of the contest. I want to say a great big thanks to all the students and teachers who put so much energy and attention into the essays that were submitted.
I recently gave a speech at a local middle school and when I introduced myself I shared with the students that there are many heros in society and my first heros were my teachers starting with kindergarten. I even remember most of their names. The reasons they're my heros are simple. They showed me attention and cared about my future while my parents did not. I've mentioned in previous posts that I grew up rough and tough in L.A. but that's mostly because of the chronic dysfuncitonal family from whence I came. In fact, today my parents - especially my father - would most likely serve jail time for what they did to their children.
So, on this Veterans Day I'd like to take a moment and say a great big thanks to all my teachers and to all the teachers out there who continue to touch a child's life. I believe that teachers have a very tough and challenging job and I don't think it's getting any easier.
So back to our veterans. Well, as I told the middle school class last week, the most important way to honor all veterans is to be an informed citizen and vote. You've also seen my posts about voting and I stand firm on my assertion that voting is the single most important effort any citizen can make to strengthen our democracy. Don't give into complacency and start chanting the mantra that your vote doesn't count. Of course it does! Change your mantra to "My vote counts!" and exercise it freely. If you don't exercise your right to vote then absolutely your vote doesn't count - you've just lived up to your mantra by not voting. Don't know much about the candidates then do your research. Read papers, talk to people, have a discussion along the way and you will know something about the candidates regardless the election. If military personnel - past, present and future - can leave their families to fight for their country then everyone can make the effort to vote.
Why should we honor our veterans? Take a moment and think about that question and explore your answers. But I want you to keep something in mind - politicians start wars, the military doesn't. The decision to go to war is not made by the military, it's made by the politicians who are the only ones that have the power to make the funding and deployment decisions to start a war on any level. By the time the military as a whole becomes involved, whether or not the military SHOULD go is almost a mute point. We had a saying in the military - "Ours is not to question why. Ours is but to do or die." So, honor our veterans, especially future ones by voting for politicians who will make the best decisions when it comes to going to war.
Happy Veterans Day!