One-Thousand Thank Yous

CAC Honors Veterans

One-Thousand Thank Yous

James Peru, Cactus Staff Writer

‘”The land of the free and the home of the brave.’ Those words are as true today as they were then.” This was the quote used by Marine Corps and National Guard veteran Joseph McCroy, to start off his speech at the Veteran’s Day Ceremony, held on the windswept plaza of Signal Peak’s M Building on November 6th.

“As a veteran, we know about pain and suffering, sacrifice. But we’re ok with that. We’ve all seen things and done things,” he continued after an emotional pause, “for our country. But we’re ok with that. We would have not wanted for our children or our friends or our families to do it. We believe that we were the chosen ones to take those things on. We were the chosen ones to see those things, and to live with them, because we wouldn’t want anyone else to do it. We didn’t serve for war; we served for peace.”

Many men find it hard to show emotion, and when that man is a Marine, it is that much harder. When you see one break down in front of a crowd in clear daylight, it puts things into perspective. You can only wonder at the horrors these men have seen, things that belong only in nightmares.

While most men and women have returned home from the war, many are still there, with the images they have seen burned into their brains and stuck on repeat. They are victims of the mind’s desire to break everything apart to try and rationalize it. But some things can’t be rationalized. They are still prisoners of war, and their battles are far from over.

Not all wounds are visible in the flesh. Some can only be seen by looking into the stained-glass windows of a person’s eyes and down into the soul; and those are the wounds that are often the most painful and frustrating; with nothing tangible to look at and monitor it’s recovery, with no Doctor being able to say that you are healing just fine.

Many of us joined the military in our youth, that time in all of our lives when we are the most eager for a sense of honor and purpose. But in our eagerness, many of us don’t stop to ponder the fact that while our contracts may end in four or ten or twenty years, the wounds we acquire during that time can last forever.

“The land of the free and the home of the brave.” When Francis Scott Key penned the famous words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” 200 years ago, he could hardly have known how true they would still ring today. But as the old saying goes: “history always repeats itself.” Many nights are still illuminated by the red glare of rockets. Many bombs still burst in the air. Our flag is still there, with its red stripes rippling in the wind like rivers of blood.

The war machine still rages on, and with the world on the brink of another Cold War, and more and more countries in a state of unrest, it is unlikely that it will ever stop. So it is important to remember that while you don’t have to support the war, you should always support those who are fighting it on our behalves. Because, like Joseph McCroy also said in his speech: “The price of freedom is high.” And someone has to foot the bill.