Jose N. Harris, a veteran of the United States Army, wrote in his book Mi Vida: A Story of Faith, Hope, and Love “A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including their life.”
Members of the United States military fight alongside their brothers and sisters in arms, defending American interests and ideals worldwide.
The notion that we can adequately repay our veterans for their sacrifices is folly. Instead, we must live up to the promises made to those who wear the uniform while exemplifying our values and principles.
This Armed Forces Day, Saturday May 18, Corsicana will hold the inaugural Texas Veterans' Parade. In America, we don’t hold military parades to project power, this is a small gesture to honor those who served.
America’s industrial strength was instrumental in winning two World Wars and cemented the United States as a superpower, but machinery only told part of the story.
President Hoover said, “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” Those who fight quickly understand that the cost of war is too great. However, when called, our fighting men and women meet the challenge with an undeniable will and sense of purpose.
They return to raise families and build our communities. There are veterans across the country in big cities, small towns including an estimated 1.6 million currently in the state of Texas, who’ve patrolled the air, land and sea in wars and conflicts since World War II.
We honor them all in some small measure with this parade.
Fiske Hanley, the parade’s Grand Marshall, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was shot down over Japan, and spent months as a prisoner of war. He was also present when the Japanese signed terms of unconditional surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri.
I’ve seen reprints of that occasion, they were kept neatly inside my grandfather’s footlocker. Members of the Greatest Generation were young men, who by their actions saved the world from tyranny. While millions died in fields, at sea and in the skies over hostile lands during conflicts across the globe, many young troops became older watchful warriors by the grace of God.
I have witnessed dozens of Honor Flight returns, and been in flag lines paying respect to those who paid the ultimate price. I’ve given and received thousands of handshakes in my lifetime. None are as strong and meaningful as those received from a veteran.
War is a failure of diplomacy, though at times necessary, armed conflict is neither heroic nor glamorous. The scars of war, both seen and unseen, aren’t soon forgotten. A bond is forged on battle fields. Veterans will gather downtown, share stories and heal. This weekend I will shake their hands and hope that we continue to live in a time where diplomacy is successful and we avoid future conflict, allowing veterans to experience extended periods of peace.