These days when veterans are a political topic, it might be good to pause. To take a look, take little listen, to what it’s really all about.
Men and women stand up and sign up…to serve. They stand with the courage to give the ultimate service. That’s it. They say with their bodies, their lives, what so many say only through their mouths, their speeches, their sometimes, patronizing platitudes.
Yes, those who serve us do so with the silent eloquence of raised right hands. From then on, fate determines whether they will come home intact…or at all.
Some will be wounded, some will be captured, some will be tortured, some will be killed by the enemy, some will be killed by “friendly” fire, some will be killed by foreign troops they are training. Some will endure the unendurable. But every one of them stood up and said…
“I do swear.”
They leave their families, they leave their jobs, they put their educations on hold, they put their careers on pause. And they do it for all America.
Are they heroes? Most of them would say not. But I say they are all heroes. I say they all are equal in that they stood up to protect the rest of us. They stood and said, “Put me in harms way.” And for that courage they are heroes…
I do swear!
I’m not alone in these thoughts. I’ve been taking photos of veterans events for some time now. I’ve photographed and made videos of Manhattan salutes to veterans. This was my first one:
I’ve taken photos of Vietnam Wall memorials, I’ve taken photos of small town honors to vets. I see signs held for veterans to see: THANK YOU. I hear the cheers of those who line the streets: “Thank you!”, “Thank you for your service!.” I see the tears when they say it. I see tears in the eyes of men and women marching or riding, touched by what they see, what they hear, what they feel.
I see children with tiny flags waving so vigorously, eyes so bright, expressing the gratitude that has been instilled in them by grateful parents.
Yes, they all see our service men and women as heroes…because they are.
Long Beach, New York’s, Beech Street is not the famous Broadway of Manhattan, but its love for veterans is no less real. And all across America, from Long Beach NY to Long Beach, CA Americans express that same gratitude, again and again and again. Tell those Americans that the troops they honor, those brave offerers of limbs and lives, are not heroes.
Long Beach’s Waterfront Warriors: http://www.lbwaterfrontwarriors.org/mission.shtml give vacations every year to wounded veterans at our sand and surf City by the Sea. I made a video of a small part of the parade given to these heroes.
This is not 5th Ave Manhattan. This is not spectacle writ large. This is “small town”, City of Long Beach NY, a small town like so many across America with…big, big, hearts. Long Beach parade:http://tinyurl.com/LongBeachhonors
God bless America