Veteran’s Day is a Time to Remember, and a Time to Give Thanks

November is of course a season of thanks. And before Thanksgiving is a special holiday known as Veteran’s Day.

Many of my clients are vets, including some of my own family, and some have children and grandchildren serving right now – all around the world. We should take this time to give thanks for their service, and their sacrifice.

You often hear politicians say that our armed forces are fighting every day for our freedom. And then, someone inevitably asks the question – “Why?” Why is Iraq, or Afghanistan, central to our freedom?

Threats to US interests, to safety, to upsetting markets, freedom of the seas, international commerce, ALL represent an inherent threat to your “freedom.” If terrorism endangers our ability to fly in an airplane, is that not an infringement on your freedom of movement? If a country develops a nuclear bomb, and proclaims they are willing to use it, does that not infringe upon your freedom?

Our men and women fight for our freedom everyday not so much because a foreign enemy is about to invade our shores (although 9/11 proved there are those who will try), but because freedom is defined much more broadly than just whether we are subjugated to someone else who has invaded our homes and defeated our armies. The ability to “live free” is a very broad concept, and one that American’s take most seriously.

What is unique about America is that we have so often fought for other people’s freedom. Our blood and treasure has been spent, more than any other country, for the rights and freedoms of others, and not just for the spoils and treasure we could take from a defeated enemy. In fact, from where I sit, the best deal going for ANY country in the history of the world is to get beat by the US in a war (ask Germany and Japan).

Of course, there have been some defeats. But that has not been the regular GI’s fault. The politicians have placed American soldiers, many times, into combat without providing the rules of engagement that would allow for victory (Korea, Vietnam). An American combat unit, when given a directive to achieve victory, will do so. Often the victory is achieved when they are outmanned and outgunned, relying upon their ingenuity and imagination to seize victory. We won every battle in Vietnam, it was the political leadership that decided not to pursue total victory.

The American veteran has made for a pretty succesful businessman upon return home as well. Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx (and someone who could teach the post office a few tricks), was a Marine. He was quoted in Forbes magazine saying the following: “I learned an awful lot in the Marine Corps –particularly about . . . how to treat people, lead people– which has played a big role in FedEx. A big part of the employee relations systems and all that we have at our company came from my experience in the service. The Marine Corps is the best when it comes to teaching people how to lead other folks.”

He is one of many examples. Others return having faced such trauma that they need our love and support in the transition back to their lives here at home. But the enduring legacy of our veterans is that they sacrificed everything for you and me, and for the cause of freedom.

Whenever you watch a movie about the end of World War II, you find all of the Germans looking for Americans to surrender to, not Russians. Why is that? America truly is that shining city on a hill, and we have remained so thanks in large part to the service of our Veteran’s. This blog is a heart-felt thank you (!) to all of those who have served on our behalf.