To you, and especially to all who’ve served our country, Happy Veterans Day!
While thinking about the meaning behind the day, we came across an editorial in the Washington Post from a few years back. It was written by a veteran named J. Mark Jackson, who served in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions in Afghanistan in 2009. In the article, he answers the question, “What does it mean to be a veteran?”
His answers to the question bring to light the knee-jerk reactions and emotions of what it truly means to be a veteran in the course of daily life. In honor of Veterans Day, we’d like to share a few of Jackson’s thoughts on being a veteran. They really bring home why the day is so important.
What Does it Mean to Be a Veteran?
by J. Mark Jackson, originally published on November 10, 2016, in the Washington Post1
To me it means:
- Nail guns sounding like the bark of an AK-47 when heard in the distance and Fourth of July fireworks sounding like mortar attacks.
- Waking up desperately searching for my rifle, while my wife softly says, “It’s all right, it’s all right; you’re home.”
- Wondering, when I forget how I filed my tax return the previous year, if I am suffering from a case of undiagnosed traumatic brain injury or if I just forgot.
- Wondering, when I miss words in a conversation, whether it is from hearing loss from the close rattle of a machine gun or if I was just not paying attention.
- Finding a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes when I see images of a crying mother or wife holding a flag folded into a triangle.
- Buying a red paper poppy whenever I see another veteran selling them and calling him ‘brother’ when the exchange is made.
- Being unable to throw those paper poppies away. Ever.
- Feeling positive about the next strong and dedicated generation of future veterans to whom we handed the baton of service.
- Feeling a surge of engulfing pride, like a warm shiver, when the American flag passes by or during the singing of the national anthem.
- Grasping the knowledge that peace is eminently more precious than any state of war, regardless of the justification. Veterans know the cost of peace firsthand, and that cost has a first name, a last name, a middle initial, and parents.
In reading Jackson’s responses, it became even more clear to us how much veterans have given, and continue to give, to our community, our nation, and our freedom. There are no words we can say, no gift we can give, that could ever repay our personal debt to those who served. But, with every word of kindness, every act of service, and every expression of gratitude, we can at least make up that debt a little.
On behalf of everyone at True Wealth & Company, we thank all our veterans from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for your sacrifice. And thank you, most of all, for coming home.
1 J. Mark Jackson, “What does it mean to be a veteran?” The Washington Post, November 10, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-veteran/2016/11/10/4c6ddce0-9ed9-11e6-8832-23a007c77bb4_story.html