a person who has served in a military force, esp. one who has fought in a war (dictionary.com)
I don't have any living relatives that served in this country in wartime. I had a great uncle that was a Pearl Harbor (deceased prior to my birth) and my grandfather's time in the Marines was between wars.
I was taught to appreciate those who fought for a country and died for our country. I was taught to thank the men and women in uniform for their service. And I did and still do. Yet, in years' past, I've lacked a personal connection to the holiday because I really didn't know any veterans.
This morning, when I thought about the holiday, I thought more about the current war. I realized that I do actually know living veterans--and more than knowing them, they're my peers, my classmates from high school and college, and soon my extended family... This year, my cousin started classes at West Point.
Though I won't begin to speculate on where the arms of the American military will be in four years, I worried for my peers. My elders already have my respect, more so as veterans, but their experience, coupled with their place in time, conveys touches of wisdom that I may never understand. It's most striking to me that these peers of mine, former classmates and my younger cousin too (maybe), have and will likely continue to endure the most physically and emotionally taxing experiences one life could--solely to maintain our feelings of safety and security at home. Perhaps it's the worry and fear that makes us most grateful.
They have my respect, respect beyond their years. But this year I didn't just think about appreciating what the veterans of this country have done--I thought about what they will do and who I will know and how their experiences will effect them.
What will the veterans from my generation see? What will they protect me from?