There is still a lot of good in this world

Veterans’ Voices is a new column directed toward veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.

 

There is still a lot of good in this world, and it is our duty to protect it.


A veteran. What really is the definition of a veteran? More specifically, what should it matter to you? These three things sum it up best for me.


• Answering the call of Service to the Nation, character formed by experiences, and how we respond to them.


• Dedication to a code of conduct and


• Standing for something greater than yourself.


Let’s talk about the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I did some research.


The words of our national anthem were eloquently put to paper by Francis Scott Key after the Battle of Baltimore, during the War of 1812. The British were on offense, and the Americans on defense. Though the Americans retreated, the battle was a successful delaying action that inflicted heavy casualties on the British.


Now, records show that the soldiers defending the Fort were hammered with a barrage of somewhere north of 1,800 cannonballs. That means the American defenders were on the receiving end of 3-4 cannonballs a minute, ALL NIGHT. That is one cannonball every 15 seconds. Explosives and burning metal designed to eviscerate men or grind them into pulp. Thank God, the British had a terrible aim.


The British Commander said, “You are hereby required and directed to destroy and lay waste such towns and districts as you may find assailable.”


So, this begs the question, “What kind of person would put themselves in this kind of harm’s way?”


Soldiers.


The soldiers who defended Fort McHenry, some of whom were 15 years old, volunteered to serve their nation. But in doing so, they knew that they were defending their homes, their loved ones, and the freedom of the young United States of America. This is part of our national DNA. That we believe in the value of fighting for what we believe in and sacrificing, if necessary, to achieve it. It was not one person who defended Ft. McHenry, but the soldiers who came together to defend their homeland, to serve, voluntarily putting themselves in harm’s way.


Which brings me to the next point of reference. Being a soldier means dedicating yourself to selfless service. A synonym for joining the armed forces is, “Being in the Service,” short for being in the service of the United States of America. Since there is no longer a draft, one has to volunteer to serve. That means most members of the U.S. military now are volunteers. There are good aspects to this; the all-volunteer force is more professional in every respect than the one it replaced.


It takes a special kind of volunteer to serve in the military. It is not a job, where you can leave at the end of the day and say, “Phew, glad that’s over!” It is a profession, which takes dedication. It is a calling.


Why have we gone to WWI and II? Korea? Vietnam? Desert Storm? Operation ENDURING FREEDOM? Iraqi Freedom? Because our nation ordered us to go. It is ingrained in every service member that we must follow orders, as long as they are legally, ethically, or morally correct. We are all races, creeds, colors, and religions.


We solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.


And what does the Constitution say? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” THAT is what we are sworn to uphold and defend.


You may be surprised to know that there are countries in this world who do not feel the same way. Some countries and some ideologies think that it’s perfectly okay to drop chemical weapons on civilians. Or that it’s entirely okay to force boys and girls into sex slavery, or behead nonbelievers, or push those of different faiths off of rooftops for fun. Others have a stated goal of seeing the United States wiped off the face of the Earth.


So, to summarize, what being a veteran signifies to me…


Answering the call of service to the nation.


Character formed by the experiences, and how we respond to them, and dedication to a code of conduct, standing for something greater than yourself.


U.S. Army Special Forces has a motto, “De Opresso Liber” which in Latin translated means to “free the oppressed.” Into the breach, between the things we cherish, and the forces that would harm them, steps the Soldier.


On a personal note, I had five friends and comrades who are no longer with us; they paid the ultimate price, and were better men than me. I would like to imagine that if they could look down on me right now, they would say, “Man… you talk too much.” And they might say, “Life is a one-way trip. You get one chance to make the world a better place, and then your time is gone. You get one shot — so make it good.”


Your thoughts. Email me at AboutVets@yahoo.com.


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— Royal D. Goodman,


U.S. Army, Vietnam 1st Cav, 9th Infantry