“We need to remind people, that the real heroes wear dog tags…” said Chaplain Scalf, Crossroads Hospice, Akron-Canton, OH.
It is a powerful truth and today—Memorial Day—we celebrate and remember the real heroes who wore dog tags and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
In a society where millions of people tune in and tweet to Kim Kardashian, and Donald Trump is considered a national hero, have we possibly misplaced some of our admiration? Are we exercising our full extent of honor? Do we all recognize the men and women who have proudly donned dog tags and given up so much for us?
Over 600,000 American Veterans have sacrificed everything since World War II—chances are you’ve heard stories about them.
The “luck of the draw” for Veterans is capricious and fickle. Some Veterans go through the military with nary a scratch on their back. Others pay the ultimate price. But all of them, no matter the physical trauma, give up their lives to serve. World travel, sponsored education, a steady paycheck – these also come with the condition that if there is ever another D-Day, they will be the first in line. These are odds few of us would choose to play.
“Many of these men gave up their whole life to answer a call. They walked away from loved ones, from friends, from careers. Their sense of duty and country was THAT strong.” – Chaplain Burden, Crossroads Hospice, Cincinnati, OH.
Not every Veteran’s tale is a “Saving Private Ryan.” Many have acts of inspirational heroism that will leave you slack-jawed; others have stories that will bring tears to your eyes. And let’s be honest, some of them have tales of years spent in boring places with little to do. Still, they all served. Whether disarming bombs, rescuing hostages, digging ditches or pushing papers – millions of men and women have sacrificed substantial portions of their lives for the call of their flag. Those of us who stand on the sidelines are here to cheer, not to judge.
“Never ever take anything for granted.” – Chaplin Barnes, Crossroads Hospice, Memphis, TN
How many heroes have you known? Guaranteed, you’ve known a few. With over 22 million of them out there, you’re only a few feet away, every day, from a man or woman who was and still is ready to put it all on the line to save your life and fight for your freedom. Veterans are so much more than a simple stereotype and the ones who gave it all aren’t just the ones you’ve read about in history books.
Old and young, male and female; our heroes don’t wear costumes. We don’t always know when they walk among us. Many of us have family members who have served; parents, siblings and even children. Our daughters and sons now defend our heart and home. While our revered World War II Vets slowly become memories, new Veterans risked it all in Afghanistan, proving we have a lot of heroes to recognize, remember and celebrate. So while today, we remember those who gave it all for us—every day it is our duty as not only a hospice but as Americans to help those heroes who have returned home.
Throughout the next few months, we will be talking about Veteran recognition – remembering “Real Heroes Wear Dog Tags.” We will discuss it in abstract and real world ways, in honest measure. Your feedback and questions are appreciated. Your experiences as a Veteran or with a Veteran are very much desired. We are going to tell some stories, share some information and maybe shed a tear or two. But, most importantly, we are going to all try and give our Veterans a few special moments – it is, after all, the least we can do.
The Real Heroes Wear Dog Tags series began in 2013. Read previously featured Veterans’ stories and learn more about how Crossroads recognizes and cares for our Veterans.
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