Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day

Day Of Gratitude, Honor and Respect
How to say, "Thank you for your service"
On Veterans Day we hear lots of "Thank you's for your service."  The Nation took a step in the right direction when "Thank you for your service," began taking hold years ago.  However, now ... sometimes ... "Thank you for your service" rings hollow when some veterans hear this.  It is time to take "Thank you for your service" to greater depths.  Let's don't let "Thank you for your service," become America's next "Let's do lunch."  Words are easy to say; actions speak louder words.  Therefore, perhaps we need to act differently when trying to express a "Thank you for your service."  Veterans Day offers an opportunity to evolve our conveyance to veterans (and service members) of our gratitude, honor and respect they deserve that the simple, "Thank you for your service" often no longer accomplishes.

Let's look at the spirit of Veterans Day to help us reset our "Thank you for your service":   November 11th is always the day honoring armed service veterans.  The official legal holiday forever remains on November 11, even when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday--when that happens, organizations that formally observe the holiday are often closed on the adjacent Friday or Monday; however, those organizations and people effected should be mindful that the holiday date does not change.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918, the world celebrated peace.  That moment commemorated an end to "The Great War" which took the lives of nearly a generation of men (as well as many civilians).  The day would begin the recognition of World War I veterans.

TOP Veteran -- Before, 1971
Over the years November 11th would evolve to paying tribute to veterans from all combat eras.  Today, Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor all--living and dead--who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime.  Veterans are men and women who served in the military (U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard) in times of war or peace.

Veterans have served our Nation, with intention and readiness to give all if called to do so.  Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman, no matter their job, has earned our lasting gratitude. They have shouldered America’s National Security responsibilities, while the rest us enjoy our freedom and way of life.  Veterans Day is especially sensitive to living veterans who served during conflict and those who retire after a lengthy service.

TOP Veteran -- After
Veterans Day is observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. Veterans Day can be a misunderstood holiday and even commonly misprinted as Veteran's Day or Veterans' Day in calendars and advertisements.  Veterans Day and Memorial Day are often confused.  Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who died in the line of service.  The spirit of Veterans Day is meant to express appreciation and recognition of sacrifice.

They were soldiers years ago; today they are veterans.  Our veterans no longer "live to fight another day;” on this Veterans Day we wish them to "live to enjoy another day."

Veterans Day began as a day of peace; honoring World War I veterans who made that possible.  96 years later, we continue to appreciate veterans who make our freedoms possible.  Every November 11th, we renew our pledge to never take our veteran's service for granted.  It is important to say this while they are still with us:  "Thank you for your service," with feeling ... gratitude ... respect ... honor!  Perhaps it is time to act and say it differently--let your heart out and express what your heart feels to the veterans in your life.

On behalf of TOP (Tours Of Peace) Vietnam Veterans, to all veterans:  We are honored to have you in our lives; as well, we acknowledge the honor in which you served.  We respect your service ... your sacrifices.  No matter what you did, please do not minimize your service--we appreciate every branch of service and every job served--during peace and war!  Your service has made a difference.  We are so grateful for your devoting a part of your life to doing a job that we know you intended on helping to make us safe--sometimes serving your country on the edge of danger, and, often in face-to-face danger.  We are filled with appreciation for what you did ... respect for every moment you spent away from  your life, family and friends, serving your country ... and are honored that you have been a part of all of our lives whether we have personally known you or not.  Our treasured veterans please accept this heartfelt--thank you for your service!

TOP Veteran -- Still Courageously Serving 44 years Later

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Homecoming

This Memorial Day is especially poignant at TOP (Tours Of Peace) Vietnam Veterans, as we prepare to return the dog tag belonging to John David Belles.  TOP recovered this personal effect September 2007--not far from where John was reported to have fallen.
John David Belles was born in Rockford, Illinois, August 26, 1948.  He was one of 16 children, "and could say all of their names in 3 seconds".

He enlisted in the Marines on June 26, 1967 and was eventually assigned a military occupation (MOS) of 0351, Anti-tank Assaultman.

John arrived in Vietnam December 11,1967 and was assigned to Mortars,1st Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

John was slightly wounded May 3, 1968 and again May 31, but was not medivaced.

JD Belles is pictured, in the first, row, 3rd, from the right, kneeling, with no cover (helmet) on, with his Vietnam unit.

On October 13, 1968, John was seriously wounded and died as a result of a gunshot wound from rifle fire, when the pointman walked into an NVA ambush, about 8 kilometers west of Lang Cam Village, during an operation.

John was single.  He served his country for 1 year, 3 months and 17 days and had been in Vietnam for 10 months and 2 days.

He was KIA#33,984.

John lived 20 years, 1 month and 17 days old.

This week, over three decades later, John's personal effect will finally be reunited with the family.  Perhaps this gesture is one way we can thank both John and his family for their sacrifice.  We continue to keep him close to our hearts and remember him on this day ... and everyday to come.

May John be the face of this Memorial Day, Memorial Day week ... and throughout the year, for all of us who realize, and are grateful to, those who gave all the line of service.  Please, never forget.