Today is Veterans Day. Did you know that the week of November 11 through November 17, 2007 has also been designated “National Veterans Awareness Week?” This designation for an entire week is meant to make more people aware of the the great contributions of all of our veterans to our country. As our military is made up completely of volunteers these days, many people in this country do not personally know anyone in the Armed Forces. I believe that it is important for Americans to remember and be grateful for the people that have sacrificed of themselves for our country's security, prosperity and freedom.
I have relatives and friends that are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. I also have relatives that have served our country in the past. My grandfathers both served during World War II. One of my grandfathers served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, when the Japanese attacked our forces there. He was fortunate and returned home to his family. I remember stories of my grandmother not knowing if her husband had survived the attack for months as a result of poor communications at the time. My other grandfather served as a guerrilla for the U.S. Army Forces Far East, which resisted Japanese occupation in the Philippines. He was captured by the Japanese and beheaded. My grandmother was pregnant with their third child at the time and was brought to the place where her husband was left to identify him. It is said that her grief caused her premature labor. I don't doubt that. My grandmother never remarried and raised her three children without the aid of a husband as a result. On both sides of the family, the absence of the father for very long periods of time was very difficult. My mother has absolutely no memories of her father. My father first remembers meeting his father when he was five or six years of age. His father was a total stranger to him. For all of their sacrifices, I've never heard one word about anyone regretting their service to the country. If anything, it was an honor and a privilege for them to contribute to the liberty that their children enjoy now.
I look at the young men and women that are serving in the Armed Forces today and those that have completed their commitment to the military and I see the profound sacrifices that they and their families are all making for our country. These patriots have my most sincere respect and gratitude for their service and commitment.