Day To Honor
Off The Wall, November 11, 2010

This Veterans Day brings mixed emotions, I’m sure. For one, it's the 11th month on the 11th day of 2011, a date that will never ever come again. And second, as Veterans Day, a day to honor all those in the military who have fought and are fighting for our country.

I remember when I was growing up, I never ever gave it so much of a thought of those in action. I was just a little tyke, doing what most kids did, learning how to ride and coast down hills on our two-wheelers. Sometimes, I would join in the fields near our house with a neighboring lad, and we would make a fort out of twigs and branches we found nearby. Then we would imitate what we saw in movies or from the limited amount of westerns that came over the small-screened televisions that, if some were blessed to afford, could be seen placed atop a book shelf or small table.

To us, that was the real world, and anything else was just part of world news, nothing in our midst, so we minimized its value.

Even in my high school years, when Veteran’s Day came to be, there was always a parade along Allegheny River Blvd. in Oakmont, but you wouldn’t find me there, because I guess I felt separated from the historical past to the existing present.

It may have been different if I had relatives who fought for our country, but that wasn’t to be. I had no Uncle Jims, Johns or Harrys who plunked their posteriors on the living room couch and proceeded to tell stories of the wars’ past. Most all my relatives were of German descent and were not citizens of the US of A. On top of that, it was not a conversation topic we brought up at home.

After my mother became bedridden, she wrote three publications, one on her poems, one of my father’s life and the third about her life as experienced living in both Germany and this country during the Hitler regime.

Imagine witnessing first hand what it must have like being the daughter of a doctor, peering at a world in turmoil from the eyes of a small youngster. All her thoughts were collected and bound in pages to educate readers who cared to eye the words of past history that, in my opinion, is a document that should be shared and read by many.

In thinking back, I believe my interest in what was happening worldwide began when people my age were being drafted to take part in the Vietnamese War. On and off, I paid attention to what was happening, watching the news and hoping, in particular, that none of my high school classmates would be killed in action.

I did learn at a high school reunion that one member died, the first girl I dated in high school. I can still remember her name, not that it matters. She always kept herself neat, well groomed, and had a very high IQ. It was a one-time deal, but back then, in bygone years, there wasn’t a whole lot of dating, but that’s another story.

Last year, I was given a gift from Dr. Bill Choby, who wrote a book titled, “Liberty in America, Past, Present and Future.” Since it was a present from him, I took it upon myself to do something I rarely did in the past, read. I love to research and come up with facts I never knew before, but to sit down and digest a whole book was something I was unaccustomed to doing. So when I was given this book as I gift, I was looking forward to cracking the pages and seeing what I could absorb.

I was impressed, to say the least. Here was a thin book that was thick with knowledge, more than this senior citizen could soak in one sitting (or in some cases, one lying in bed before lights out).

Nowadays, I treasure what American citizens and other soldiers are doing to keep the freedoms of our country alive. We can’t and shouldn’t give in to those who want to take our liberties away from us.

As we have found out, war, regardless of where it is fought, is a nasty thing. Yet, even knowing that, men and women of our country are signing up to fight so we can bring up our families in a peaceful setting, where the environment is protected against ruin and our women and children won’t be in fear of being brutalized is such a wonderful feeling.

I praise God I was born, brought up and will live throughout my years in this, the United States of America. If it weren’t for our veterans, I don’t know where we’d be. When you see a man who has served or one who is doing so, stop and say thanks. He DESERVES it!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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