Even though I am a day late with this, (I plead the teething toddler defense) I would like to thank all veterans of all branches of the armed services for defending our country and its freedoms.
My grandfather, who is 87, served in WWII. He volunteered to join the Army, since his job mining coal in the dark Pennsylvania caves seemed just as dangerous at that time. He was shipped to Guadalcanal, and was the radio operator for his unit. Even though he didn't partake in the famous fighting that the Marines undertook on Guadalcanal, he saw enough action to last more than a lifetime.
I would never have known that my grandfather served if I had not been told by my father, my grandfather never mentioned it while I was growing up. Then, one day about 5 years ago, he began talking to me about some of his experiences. As he spoke of moments of sheer terror in the jungle, comrades dying in his arms, his hopes that he would see my grandmother again, it hit me very forcefully why he had been silent for so long. War is something that scars you for life, and sharing those scars is painful. Talking about it brings it back to reality, even if only for the moment you are describing it. Also, you don't want to pass those scars along, they are yours to keep and hold.
My grandfather is a wonderful, honorable man to whom I pay tribute. Thank you just does not seem to be enough for what he went through, as well as every other war veteran. But, it is all I have for him, as well as a kiss and hug. The least we can give them is thanks. Thank them for the scars that they keep hidden from us to protect us.