The thundering sound of a Huey II’s chopper blades pounds in the ears of a frightened 17-year-old boy sitting amongst over a hundred other soldiers about to face what they’ve trained for the previous three months. Training is one thing; reality and application is another.

Now they are sitting in the chopper ready to hit boots on the ground, knowing enemy bullets are waiting just outside the steel and metal that surrounded them.

Yet, this 17-year-old boy, although scared out of his mind, has a sense of pride and duty that he’s taking part in something great: protecting and representing his country.

Fast forward nearly 70 years later. A young woman stands in a coffee shop preparing to order her usual when she notices a commotion on the TV. As she watches, a United Airlines Boeing 767 hits the second Twin Tower. Her heart sinks deep in her chest, not just with hurt and grief but with anger.

The very next day she goes down to her Marine Corps recruiting office and signs the papers. Instantly she wanted to seek revenge as well as protect Americans.

My list of accounts can go on forever. So many people have chosen to join the military for more than one reason. Regardless of the reason we — as American citizens — are forever grateful and thankful to each and every man and woman whose fought for our armed forces.

For myself personally, aside from Thanksgiving, Veterans Day is one of the greatest ways to say thanks. It’s a whole day I can spend thanking those who served our country with honor. Veterans Day is a day where I can randomly walk up to anyone who is a veteran or currently serving and I can hand them a card, shake their hand (pre COVID) or do something nice for them to make sure they know that there are still people in America who think about them and appreciate them.

So why is Veteran’s Day so important? Why is it even a holiday? Some people really do wonder this question, therefore let me shed some light.

According to www2.census.gov there are 323,205 veterans in the state of Oregon alone and 21,369,602 nationwide. Each and every time American’s have answered the call to either defend herself or rescue and aid others, there’ve been countless brave men and women who answered that call.

These brave men and women, like Mike Eakin, now the commanding officer of VFW Post 2468 of Roseburg, who said “I had a rough upbringing, by the time the Vietnam war had started they were drafting kids. It was either stay home in a place I didn’t even want to live in or go serve my country. I answered the call. Never regretted a moment of it. What a hard thing it was too to leave home at just 17 and be thrown into the mix of guys all serving the same purpose. Leaving the only life I knew for a whole other life, country, warfare. I was proud to serve and I am proud to be serving fellow veterans today.”

Like Troy Windsor, United States Marine Corps “I joined the Marines because my dad thought it’d be a good idea to join any branch. I thought it was a good idea to serve my country and travel the world. I wanted to have a lifetime of brothers and that’s what I got.”

Or like Kristyne Eggleston, United States Army. “I knew since I was little that I’d either marry into it or join. So I joined.”

Veterans who’ve answered the call didn’t always mean that they fought in war, but they were sure ready to. Those, like my husband, who never fought in war were still trained and ready to go. They were still fulfilling a duty. I commend them entirely.

Whatever reason someone joined the military, in my book, it was a good one. These people were and are the ones who take that step forward and say, “I’ll go wherever you need me to go, I’ll do whatever you need me to do.” They are the ultimate servant leaders.

Hence, for the importance of Veterans Day. A whole day, just one, to say thank you. To express our gratefulness, our thankfulness and our appreciation to every single veteran for their amazing service to our Country.

Kate Windsor is a Sutherlin resident and mother of six kids ranging in age from 11-18. Kate recently graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelor of Arts.

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