Who is a veteran?

A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America”, for an amount of “up to and including my life.” That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it. — Author Unknown

Today we come together to honor veterans. One is not simply a veteran for a few years; it’s a title you hold for life. Veterans have, of course, held this country together when it was under attack, and also have contributed to inventing many of the things we sell at Solid Signal. We can’t say enough about how much we honor and respect our veterans.

The image above honors an organization called the Grand Army of the Republic, one of the first and most vocal veterans’ groups. They never stopped fighting for what was right, not their whole lives and the organization, formed of Civil War vets, kept fighting until the last surviving member passed away in 1956.

Speaking personally, I didn’t know much about veterans when I was growing up. Vietnam vets were still a largely underground group back then. While older relatives had served, it was a long time ago and none of them really discussed it.

I learned about veterans on Veterans’ Day. Back then old-timers still called it Armistice Day, as it originally commemorated the day when World War I ended. Every Veterans’ day, we gathered in a park, in the snow, cold or rain, the start of a parade to honor veterans in my hometown. It was there I saw the oldest men that my young eyes had ever seen, dressed up with strange emblems and medals pinned upon their chests. They were the local VFW, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and they showed up, not because they were proud of themselves, but because they were proud of their fallen friends.

The old men of the VFW showed up because they had to. They remembered so hard that they couldn’t help but show it. That’s how much they cared. That’s how they lived. That’s how their fellow soldiers died.

Today, on Veterans’ Day, try to forget all those overused chestnuts. Of course freedom isn’t free. Of course all gave some and some gave all. Stop thinking about slogans and start thinking about sacrifice. Then go thank someone.