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Front Page » June 29, 2004 » Opinion » What is a Veteran?
Published 3,826 days ago

What is a Veteran?


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By DAN VALENTINE

He's a man who looks the world in the eye. He's a man who feels an extra heart tug when the flag goes by. He's a man who steps a little faster when he hears the beat of a military band.

He's a veteran.

He comes in all assorted sizes and shapes. He's a big man, he's a small man, he's a short man, he's a tall man.

He is the "Doughboy" of World War I, the "G.I." of World War II. He's a man who's seen Korea's skies, and fought the cold and silent battle of uneasy Berlin.

He's a veteran.

He is a Sailor, Soldier, Marine. He is Flyer, Seabee, Coast Guard. He is Artillery, Infantry, Medic, Chemical Corps, Armored and Ordnance.

He's a veteran.

He has the quiet dignity of a man who knows the price of freedom. He has the clear eyes of a man who respects himself.

He is courage living on Main Street. He is patriotism mowing the lawn on Saturday afternoon. He is good citizenship with a smile on his face.

He's a veteran.

He's a Republican, Democrat, Independent. He is father, grandfather, husband and bachelor, uncle.

He is a plumber, doctor, salesman. He is a mechanic, farmer, banker. He is a Catholic, Protestant, Jew. He is rich and poor and in-between.

He's a veteran.

He's a man who loves peace because he knows the price tag of war.

He's a member of history's most exclusive fraternity.

He's been there...He's a veteran.

He likes the majesty of American mountains, the tranquility of America's valleys. He likes the bustle of America's cities and the friendliness of America's Main Streets.

He likes the sound of America's children playing on American playgrounds. He likes to see the flag go by and hear the sound of an American bugle playing "Taps."

He is citizen soldier, peacetime leader. He's the first to volunteer in time of trouble and the last to come home. He's a veteran.

He is proud of his American past, alert to his American present, confident of his American future.

He likes the legends of America's great, the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, the Abraham Lincolns, the Roosevelts, the Robert E. Lees, the Stonewall Jacksons, the Pattons, the Eisenhowers, the MacArthurs and all the proud patriots who have marched through America's history books.

He has bivouacked at Valley Forge, charged the hills at Gettysburg, faced the fire at San Juan Hill, stormed the sands at Guadalcanal, sloughed through the Marne and swarmed ashore at Omaha Beach. He's a veteran.

In the very rear of his secret heart there is always a tinge of sorrow, a souvenir of sadness for lost comrades.

No matter how gray his temples grow or how many inches he adds to his middle-aged waist, he always walks with a distinctive pride that isn't given to lesser men.

He is America with an honorable discharge. He is Democracy with a good conduct medal lost in the darkness of his keepsake box. He is freedom with a Purple Heart.

He's a first class fighting man with a quiet walk and a sentimental grin.

He's America's most honored citizen.

He's a veteran.


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June 29, 2004
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