| Jun 05, 2008

Letters - June 5, 2008

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Letters - June 5, 2008 Letters: June 5

Re: Verona Cemetery Service, James Steed

Re: Verona cemetery Service

You did a grievous error in not mentioning Veterans (As of 1 July 2006, all personnel that don the uniform of the Canadian Forces become veterans whether they were in a war or not); i.e. - Doug Lovegrove, Debbie Lovegrove, Maj Idzenga, Officer Cadet Monette. These members are also veterans.

What is a veteran?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service…a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them…a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg…or perhaps another sort of inner steel…the soul’s ally forged in refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept Canada safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a Vet just by looking.

What is a Vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She or he is a nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for one solid year in Vietnam.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another – or didn’t come back at all.

He is the Drill Instructor who has never seen combat but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into soldiers and teaching them to watch each other’s back.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on ribbons and medals with his prosthetic hand.

He is the career Quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the anonymous hero in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…or whose presence at the CF National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket – palsied now and aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when his nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being – a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in service of his country and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a Soldier, Sailor, Airman and a savior and a sword against the darkness and is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

He is the beggar on the street corner, holding up a piece of cardboard with the scribbling “Help a Vet, HUNGRY!”

So remember, each time you see someone in uniform who has served our country, just lean over and say “Thank You”. That’s all most people need and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot: “Thank You”

James E Steed CD, Canadian Airborne Brotherhood

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