My father, my uncle, my friends and colleagues… Even myself; today is our day. Veterans of the United States Military deserve recognition on all days for their sacrifices made in the face of our freedom. The government declared November 11th, the day the Armistice was signed, ending World War I a National Holiday on May 24th, 1954 by act of Congress in order to honor the men and women who have made their lives our own in their service of our freedom.
I make a point to contact all of the present and former military members I know in order to thank them for their service. In the area of the country I live in there is a mixed welcome for people like me, I think. Most people I talk to where I live either are related to someone in the military or have someone close to them who are enlisted. Most people are interested in what I do and are grateful for my service, as well as that of the member they also know. However, there are people who are less grateful…
The North Bay Area of San Francisco is not a very military friendly place. There are a couple Army Reserve units, and of course the Coast Guard Training Center, where I work, but for the most part the people in this area are pretty oblivious to their enlisted neighbors. Because of this lack of knowledge these people make comments they wouldn’t otherwise make in the presence of a military member; disparaging remarks which make it clear our service is not only unappreciated, but also not necessarily required for their continued freedom and safety.
I can’t fault this minority, though. The people who don’t care so much for the military members in their communities are welcome to that right, and I will protect that right to my dying breath. You see, the military has had a very dynamic history in many people’s minds. Sometimes the military is welcome at any table and respected for the service and sacrifices they’ve taken upon themselves as voluntary defenders of our freedom and the freedom of the modern world. Sometimes the military is rejected because people believe things that have been said disparaging the military’s presence in our society. In the same day I have been asked “How does it feel to kill a baby?” by ignorant demonstrators out in front of the local Safeway because I was wearing my Coast Guard hat with pride, while later that day I was thanked by a group of demonstrators out in front of Wal-Mart for my service to the country which has enabled their right to gather in a show support or dissent against or for whatever they choose.
Many people don’t agree with the ideas behind National Holidays like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, but I don’t care. I have not fought, so to speak, in any sort of combat action while I have served in the Coast Guard, but my skills and service have been leveraged effectively in the ongoing missions of the Coast Guard to protect our shores and inland navigable waters from crime, terror, drug trafficking and unsafe navigation conditions. Some people may not accept the service and sacrifice the members of the military and their families have made to protect them, but one thing is absolutely clear; We will never tire, we will never flag, and we will never fail in our mission to protect the people of the United States of America, and those people who are without the freedoms we have here, and that mission is not dependent on your desire or lack thereof our service.
Thank you all, my friends and fellow service members, for protecting my freedoms and those of everyone of this great country. Without your sacrifice and service none of what we have would have been possible. I am humbled in the shadow of the debt for which there is no possible repayment, and although I serve right next to you in the protection of all of freedom throughout the world.
ET1 James Vincent Pisano Jr.
United States Coast Guard