Armistice Day, Nov. 11th, is generally a day for Americans to recognize living military members for their unselfish dedication to our country. Speaking as someone who retired in May after 31 years of wearing a U.S. Coast Guard uniform, I would be remiss by not thanking the American public for the support they have offered me and my family over the past three decades.
One responsibility of senior officers and senior NCOs is to provide a bit of “perspective” to junior personnel with the hope of passing along the “genes” that help make each respective service better and more effective in support of our country’s goals and priorities. My perspective entitles me to emphatically state that military services are smarter, more dedicated and more professional today than have been since the at least the Jimmy Carter era and possibly since the Greatest Generation served this county so valiantly during World War II.
At a time when the U.S. still fights wars on multiple fronts, all Americans should take pride in knowing the quality of service personnel in our all-volunteer fighting force remains the world’s gold standard. I know of no other nation where young men and women in sufficient number are willingly to serve in harm’s way in unpopular overseas campaigns, not motivated by self-serving gains, but because asked by their country to serve.
If one can find a silver lining in protracted overseas military commitments, it is a renewed appreciation for our military personnel. In my transition from uniformed to civilian service I recognized that my high water “popularity” mark was at my retirement ceremony. Such appreciation I never took for granted, and is something I cautioned my sailors to always keep “weather eye” least we fall out of public favor. My perspective enables me to never to tire from hearing a simple ”thank you” or seeing a community like Juneau embrace its military members. This has not always been the case, especially in post-Vietnam era where the public often unfairly treated its service men and women with disdain or ambivalence.
So, on this Armistice Day, Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, go ahead and thank a vet. But also know there are millions of veterans, like me, who wish to thank this country for the freedom it offers and thank the communities where we reside for your unwavering support.
Carl J. Uchytil