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To the US veterans, and servicemen and women amongst us:

Surfrider

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Happy Veterans' Day. Ninety-eight percent of us - the civilian population - benefit from the sacrifice and bravery of the two percent of you. Each one of us is in your debt, and it's not right that you don't get more recognition for your efforts. Very often, for us civilians, those terms - "sacrifice" and "bravery" - conjure up images of archival footage; smartly-uniformed sailors in their dress whites setting sail for distant seas on the decks of their ships, or seemingly-fearless marines charging up a remote beach in the face of withering enemy fire, or wary soldiers, fingers on the trigger guards of their weapons, on patrol through an unfriendly slum in some far-flung, third-world country, or the multitudes of poor bastards who return home without a finger or toe, a hand or foot, an arm or a leg, or worse: in a pine box. But it seems to me that there are many other sacrifices that are often not recognized; while serving far afield, many a serviceman has missed the birth of his child, their first words, their first steps. Countless are the milestones in life - birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals, and so on - that our servicemen and women have missed while faithfully executing their duties. My own grandfather, who was fortunate to escape physical harm, lost his father to a heart attack while he was overseas fighting the Nazis at the Battle of the Bulge. While not as visible as the loss of life or limb, certainly these things are not insignificant. And does not "bravery" also include the recognition of these possibilities, yet carrying out your responsibilities regardless? Over the years - and especially nowadays - there are a lot of people who volunteer for military service primarily for personal gain. And why not? In an abysmal job market, military service provides a steady paycheck, and for those who feel there's no other way for them to receive a higher education, the military can provide an avenue to a college degree. Make no mistake: I do indeed respect the service of the men and women with such motivations. Similarly, I know there has been many a soldier, sailor, marine, airman, or guardsman who has unwittingly found themselves thrust into harm's way - in places they never should have been sent - by the ambitious scheming of a few despicable politicians who languish behind their desks, ensconced in security-controlled buildings, at home on friendly shores. To those unfortunate souls, I also extend my respect, my thanks, and, certainly, my sympathy. But then there's people like my grandfather, a soldier who volunteered immediately following the Pearl Harbor attack, and my best friend, a marine who volunteered shortly after 9/11 (before we all learned the US government had lied to us). I feel these people deserve special notoriety; when faced with very real, very present threat to their country and countrymen, they risked everything - even their very lives - to defend us, not because they were told they had to, but because they felt it was their duty. To these men women most of all, we owe a lot, perhaps everything. I could not say the following words with more sincerity: To all our service personnel, past and present, living and deceased: thank you. From the bottom of my heart, and a million times over; thank you. For all you have done, and continue to do every day; thank you. You have my gratitude, my respect, my admiration, and my love. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Happy Veteran's Day.
 

eqpablon

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