Last week we celebrated Veteran’s Day. My oldest two daughters each wrote winning essays honoring those who have served our country. I share them both with you all today as I believe that the writings show clearly the personalities of my girls…
I appreciate America’s veterans because without them we would not be the country we are today. All of the men and women that serve our country must have a tremendous amount of faith, courage, determination, and love for their country. To leave your family behind and go out on the battle ﬁeld, whether it is on the seas, in the air, or on the ground, is amazingly brave.
Our veterans do so much to help make our lives better. Without them, we might still be under the control of Great Britain; or still be enslaving blacks in the southern United States; or be controlled by the Nazi Party! Most of the luxuries that we take for granted are because of those who are or were ﬁghting to defend our rights.
The men and women who wear our colors are special to me because my great-grandma had to share my great-grandpa with our country and have faith that he would come home. My great- grandpa served as a Navy ofﬁcer on the submarine Peter Greenling during World War II. It was hit twice by underwater missiles from Japanese Bombers. Both times when the ship was hit they had to return to harbor for repairs.
While serving, my great-grandfather faced challenges that he turned into opportunities. Bird- watching, astrology, and walking were three later in life hobbies that came from these challenges. He ﬁrst developed a love for bird watching as the night watch on the Peter Greenling, when he had to be able to tell wether the objects above were seagulls or Japanese Bombers. He also used the stars to guide the submarine, because he was THE navigational ofﬁcer on board, and number two in command. My great-grandpa developed a love for walking and running, because he was in such cramped quarters on the submarine.
Changing challenges into opportunities is something that makes veterans special. Seeing the troubles of the world can change the way you look at things. Instead of looking at things as bad experiences, looking at them with a positive attitude can make you a better person. I wish I had more time to get to know my great-grandpa because he was a wonderful, joyous, and exciting person. Having a positive outlook on the world and people living here; even though we have our ﬂaws; makes our country stronger as a whole.
Close your eyes. Imagine a world where a group of people live in fear of persecution. Picture a land that doesn’t believe in freedom of mind. Think of a place that exercises oppression, and complete control by government. Now open them. We are lucky enough not to live like this because of the bravery of the veterans who have defended our country throughout the years. Veterans are important to our nation because of the lessons and values they taught and defended in the past, the role they play in our present, and the insight they can provide for our future.
History is often dismissed by students as “unimportant” because it has already happened. But what if it hadn’t happened? What if the past did not play out the way it did? What if we all still had afternoon tea and used the loo? If visiting California entailed leaving the country? These examples are from a time early in our history, but if we fast forward through the ages, we come to a more important question: What if our WWII soldiers did not persevere? Let’s take a look at a critical point in our history, where the role of veterans cannot be discounted.
Imagine 2015. Germany, who now in conjunction with Italy, rules the continent of Europe, has spread across the Atlantic Ocean, and claimed the eastern half of what once was America. Gone are the pre-war values of the United States. A Nazi flag flies over a school in the American Republic of Germany. Students recite the oath of allegiance in German, which is the primary language. The percentage of German Americans, which in 1940 was about 32%, is now 80%. The students now sit, and listen to the latest propaganda being broadcasted by the Leader and Chancellor. In the capital, New Berlin, lines of green clad soldiers with swastikas on their lapels practice military drills under the watchful eye of the Commander in Chief of the Nazi army, a man hand picked by Adolph Hitler.
About a thousand miles away, in what used to be the west coast of the Unites States of America, the Greater Japanese Empire now exists. Japanese is now spoken throughout the country and the primary religions are Shinto and Buddhism. Temples dot the country side, which is mainly used to provide resources for the ever-growing empire. Schools teach triumphantly of the defeat of the US forces in that fall of 1945.
In between the coasts sits the land that so often is forgotten about. The states that once occupied the middle of America, the Bread Basket of the World, are desolate, bare plains. In the aftermath of the war, the various leaders of the Axis force quickly claimed land in the Central United States, for the abundant natural resources that were located there. When it came time to divvy up the conquered territories, an agreement could not be found. Air raids and stealth attacks followed. Finally, a compromise was found, but not before the land was basically useless. The wasteland now sits as a divider between the two nations. The loss of WWII cost this region its dignity.
Fortunately, this whole scenario didn’t happen. The WWII veterans that we honor still today came through for us, saving the world from a future no one wants to imagine. Because of their bravery and sacrifice, we now enjoy many freedoms as Americans. We have made it our mission to share these freedoms with the world.
Freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the right to bear arms. All of these rights that we have as Americans are insured by our military might. Here in the US, we are able to express our feelings, defend ourselves, and vote to change the way our country is run. The checks and balances system we have ensures that we will never have power hungry officials take over. We have freedom of religion and relative equality of the sexes, attributes that make America attractive to immigrants all over the world. Our veterans have made it possible for us to live lives not tarnished by worry over war in our own home. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for all countries.
The USA has military interests in many countries, especially in the Middle East. As a country, America has taken it upon itself to defend the rights of people who are unable to defend themselves. Recent veterans, ones who have served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, have helped establish basic rights for minorities and oppressed people. Our veterans have truly made a difference in the lives of people all over the world.
The effect that our soldiers have on the world is substantial. Even though peace is the goal, our presence right now is considered necessary by leaders. As we withdraw from foreign conflicts, our veterans have a lot they can teach us, such as teamwork skills and unshakeable integrity.
It is said that we must study history in order to learn from our mistakes in the past. In the future, our veterans can advise world leaders on whether to engage in combat or not. Veterans can also pass down lessons learned during their time in the military to make the US a better place. According America’s Job Exchange, former military personnel have great integrity as well as a better understanding of teamwork and communication skills, which are both vital to success. If the older generations can provide a good example for their descendants, the world will slowly change for the better.
Our country has been shaped over the years by countless acts of selflessness and bravery performed by our veterans. In the past, they fought to keep our borders safe, now they fight in foreign countries to defend our freedoms- and to try to establish them for others-, and in the future, they will continue to provide us with defense and wisdom which we can use to keep America the Home of the Free.
Think back to that future I had you imagine. Pretty awful, right? Now think of the world we live in now. Which one would do you prefer?