Thank You to the Veterans Who Made This Nation
Our protectors. Our noble guardians.
These are our veterans; those who sacrificed in service so that we may enjoy the liberty and luxury of Western Civilization in the 21st Century. Twice this weekend, I had the honor of paying tribute to these brave men and women.
I was in Baton Rouge Saturday for LSU's game against Mississippi State. During halftime festivities, the Golden Band from Tigerland honored the veterans in attendance through patriotic renditions of American musical classics. Veterans were asked to stand and the crowd was asked to applaud.
It wasn't lost on me that the veterans in my section, to a one, all seemed reticent to accept the adulation.
Their way of doing things isn't one of bravado. They did not serve to be praised, to be hailed. They served because of various factors, not all noble, some less than that I'm sure. But the character remains. It was easy to see.
They were of all ages, both genders and a variety of races. But they were all the same. Heroes. Real heroes. Not the kind of hero ESPN would report on come SportsCenter. Those heroes, the ones clad in purple and gold smashing skulls on a dying field of Bermuda under a clear November sky, can never fit the mold of what a hero is truly.
A true hero gives of self freely, without any expectation of return. They protect. They serve. They sacrifice. They bleed. They leave friends and family. They give all. And sometimes they tragically leave EVERYTHING on the true fields of battle.
We no longer live in a nation that holds these men and women in the esteem of days gone by. They are appreciated. But the appreciation is an echo of the past. Such is the way of things. Yet their nobility and their brotherhood remains as strong as any elderly Oak.
Their brotherhood is of the highest honor. It is a league of heroism and love of country that has been displayed time and again, from Yorktown and Gettysburg to Iwo Jima and the Persian Gulf.. They have lost more than a million in service. More than a million and a half others have been wounded.
They are unique and they are many. And as I saw them in our state capitol and then again on Sunday during our community's annual Veterans Day memorial, the same feelings of appreciation, awe and a gnawing sense of regret washed over me.
The awe comes from the appreciation. The sense of amazement I feel when I consider what they gave up and what they risked; what they lost in many sorrowful cases. The regret comes from the fact that I have never served as they have.
The more days that pass me by, the greater my regret, my desire to have served my country as they have. My choices led me to where I am today, here on a Sunday night penning this column. Regret is a dirty word. One that I rarely utter because to question is to take for granted the blessings you have been bestowed. I am eternally grateful for what I have, whom I have, who loves me and whom I love.
But I wish that I could have done more for America. More for her men and women. Her weak and defenseless. To be a true guardian, a true defender, a true hero like the men and women in attendance Sunday in Minden.
Their colors were not purple and gold. Their field was not lined with chalked numbers and logos. Their colors are red, white and blue. Their fields were dusty, frigid, wet and stained with the grim reminders of lives lost.
They are our true, our pure heroes.
And I thank God for them.
Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. He is a two-time recipient of the Best Newspaper Column award given annually by the Louisiana Press Association.