Have you ever been in the presence of a hero? How about a room full of heroes – male and female heroes – from this point on let’s just assume that I’m including both genders when I use the word, shall we?
No, I’m not talking about individuals of celebrity because they made a few films, played in a few bands, sang a few songs or headlined a few television shows.
Let me re-pose the question. Do you ever wonder why Europe doesn’t speak German as the ‘euro-tongue’ (it’s mostly UK English, actually.)
Or why the entire Pacific Rim doesn’t eat sushi and speak Japanese?
Go ahead – rule out the actors, actresses, rock stars, television personalities, and frankly, even most politicians, including the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
On the other hand, do you have an aunt or uncle, brother or sister, cousin, niece, nephew, grandparent or friend who once did, is currently, or has plans to serve his country in one of the five branches of the Armed Services of the United States of America – six if you count Border Patrol? If so, you know a hero. The real thing, not just one who plays one on TV.
I spent the best part of the last two hours in a room elbow to elbow with American Veterans. The Fourth Annual Military Day and Veterans Resource Fair, sponsored by Congressman Gus Bilirakis had Tarpon Springs’ East lake High School filled with men and women who answered their nations call to go to places like Normandy, Nijmegen, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, Korea, Viet Nam Bagdad. And everyone I spoke with said, despite their age and the fact that many with whom I spoke were disabled, spat upon when they came home, and ignored by the very government that called them into action, if the call comes again, they would proudly answer again.
America is that important to them. Freedom is that important to them. You and I are that important to them.
Heroes. The real McCoy, and I was humbled to be in their midst. Humbled and proud of these men and women who gave of themselves, often leaving parts of themselves buried in the soil of the land where they fought. Humbled by their humility, and in that, their greatness. There was no bravado in this room today. No bravado in the literally scores of people waving flags and holding signs that shouted out THANK YOU! as we drove through the entry to the high school where the event was held.
Just the simple humility of men and women who answered the call to serve, and their friends, neighbors, and family there to thank them, and to honor them and their sacrifice.
Real, honest to goodness by gosh heroes.
Thank you, each and every one of you for the freedom I enjoy. And if America needs a presidential apology tour, it should include every president since Kennedy to stand up, salute these men and women, apologize to THEM for the way their nation treated them and welcome each and every one of them home to the America they defended and in some cases, gave their lives for – even if it comes, for some, 50 years late.
Thank you, every one of you. God Bless You!