Published 12:38 am Sunday, November 11, 2007

Its Veteran’s Day and we want to honor all those who have served. The great generation of men who took part in the ‘Big’ wars are quickly leaving this world and no one will be left to tell us one on one what they experienced. History books will never paint the story correctly. We have film and pictures which are powerful, but to look into someone’s eyes that has been to hell and back and let him tell you, or some in cases, not tell you because it is too painful, is a form of media we can not replace.

Today, our lives have gone back to normal, ‘me, me, me,’ and what can I get. The patriotic drums have died down, and because major fighting has ended so has much of our attention. The daily report of another soldier killed in Iraq has dwindled to a repetitive dull, oh another one, we feel a moment of sadness and then we go on, day after day after day.

Meanwhile, Picayune’s brightly colored yellow ribbons have faded and the multitude of American Flags have gone back to sleep. All is normal, until the next time a big event gets our attention.

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Yet, we have our own people still fighting for their lives every day, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their families are nervously waiting for the return of their loved ones. They have faded ribbons too, but instead of throwing those away, they just get more and the closer it is to their loved ones homecoming, they get brighter and bigger ribbons. Because each day that goes by makes it that much closer to their coming home.

I have seen first hand the tension of serving overseas, many years ago in South Korea. Since it was my first time out of the country I became acquainted with what it feels like to live in a land that is under threat of war at any given moment.

I learned quickly how secure I had felt back in the United States, although today that warm and cozy feeling isn’t so strong anymore after 9/11. Yet, I still feel safer at home.

You never know what dangers our soldiers face. In South Korea the threat lies not only in a North Korean invasion, but in the wild and crazy driving of Korean taxi cabs. It’s not safe over there! Just from Kempo airport, about seven miles, I was thrown this and that way, while weaving in and out of large busses. Traffic flow was chaotic. I must have nine lives because that crazed cab driver used up at least three.

We ask our military to live in strange lands and give up everyday luxuries, such as toilets. Even in South Korea , I had to perform gymnastic moves just to go ‘you know.’ And don’t even get me started that men and women share bathroom facilities. I have suffered permanent kidney damage from trying to hold bodily functions for hours until I could get back on a U.S. base. Every time I got desperate enough to try to go, a Korean man would walk into the bathroom and I would just turn around frustrated.

The sacrifice our men and women in the military make is why we honor them. They give up the simple pleasures that we all take for granted, such as our favorite home cooked meal. You just can’t cook fried chicken and collard greens, or Seafood Gumbo, outside the South and make it taste like home. They do the best they can, but in Korea , fermented (I refer to as rotten) cabbage, (Kimshi) is the food of every day and its not pleasant to look at, smell, or heaven forbid, eat. It’s just a culture thing. I ‘m sure mudbugs might look nasty to Yanks too.

So this Veteran’s Day, let us remember in prayer our people and the sacrifices they make, big and small, especially those who make the ultimate sacrifice, which is a daily event. The world is not a safe place for Americans, and those in uniform, are the most at risk. God Bless our Soldiers. God Bless our National Guard and Reservists who have given up their everyday lives.

My door use to have a big yellow ribbon. We use to see them all over Picayune. Not only are the ribbons faded, but they have disappeared completely.

Sometimes, I need a jolt to remember what my freedom has cost. Let Veteran’s Day be that jolt for Picayune. Let’s wake up a bit and honor our guys who have given of their lives, or who still serve.

Let’s make the yellow ribbon manufacturers rich!!!