Over the past two months, in attempting to find some eloquent way to write this thank you, this salute, this essay of love and appreciation to my fellow comrades-in-arms, I have found that I am not Robert Lewis Stevenson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, nor Ernest Hemingway. These great authors were weavers of words in complicated patterns revealing a design of metaphors that cannot be imitated without looking like a counterfeit one hundred dollar bill printed on toilet paper. Rather then attempt to thank a Veteran for being a Veteran, let us get to the core and be grateful for their their Altruistic Heart.
I can hear many of you asking, “What is an Altruistic Heart?” It means a heart that is unselfish, humane, noble or self-sacrificing. It is that part of one’s character that develops as a part of military training. It begins with building loyalty within a squad, platoon, company, brigade, military branch, country, etc. It is a pride that is built in conjunction with loyalty. It is not a personal pride. It is a pride that comes from doing your job with excellence. It becomes a part of one’s character. It is that self-sacrificing love that allows one to jump on a grenade to save others. It is that unselfish love permitting one to run through a rain of bullets to save wounded comrades, one at a time. It is that noble love forcing one to take on a superior enemy force by themselves for the benefit and safety of his/hers platoon. It is the humanitarian love allowing one the ability to give one’s life for those back home. This Altruistic Heart in a Veteran expands with time to include all for which the Veteran has performed their duty, extended their loyalty, and had given their love.
It is the Altruistic Heart of a Veteran that allows her/him to swell with pride at the sound of The National Anthem. It is that heart that can be reduced to tears at the sound of Kate Smith singing God Bless America. The Altruistic Heart makes one misty eyed saying the “Pledge of Allegiance.” It is a pride that develops for their Nation, and those who are a part of it. It is also the heart that weeps for their brothers and sisters who offered their lives for others, and weeps for those injured; left to rebuild their lives without the assistance from those, to whom the soldier took an oath to protect.
Thank a Veteran, not for his/hers service, but for their Altruistic Heart. For their ability to love each and every person as if they were a part of their own family. We should thank them for passing those traits on to their children, to boot. It is the children who are willing to share their Moms and Dads. Their little hearts want to share the protection with all of us. Here is a poem in honor of those children.
A Child’s Call-to-Arms
by Ray Hanisco
My Mommy’s gone away to war,
My best friend’s Daddy too,
They’re in a country far away,
Afghanistan – it’s true!
I’m not the only one who cries,
There’re others, who feel blue,
The children of the Veterans, who
laid down their lives for you.
Mom said that there were other fights,
This country had gone through,
To give us life and liberty,
while our country grew.
I say my prayers most every night,
If Mommy only knew,
I want her home and in her arms;
She’ll tell me how I grew.
I pray for all the other Dads
and Moms who paid what’s due,
With life or limb and sacrifice,
While bullets round them flew.
We need to thank them every day,
In whatever war they drew,
And for their loving hearts - salute,
This Veteran’s Day’s for you.
To all my Veteran Brothers and Sisters, and my Comrades-in-Arms around the globe, thank you for your Altruistic Hearts, and for your service to our country. I also wish to remember my late Grandfather, Frank, who served as a Merchant Marine in World War I; my late Uncle Frank, who served on the USS Ticonderoga during World War II; my late Father, Ray, who served on the USS Consolation during War World II; and, my late Uncle John, who served with the 2nd Rangers during World War II. You are in my thoughts every day.
Thank You to all Veterans.