A few weeks ago I was having lunch with a friend — an old friend. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps for World War II, where he flew P51’s. He stayed in to fly F86’s in Korea, and even flew F100’s in Vietnam.
After lunch he went to pay, only to realize he did not have his wallet. I was honored to pay for his lunch. He found his wallet in his car, and wanted to pay me for his meal. I declined, and he tried to insist. I blurted out a stunning truth:
“You fought for me!”
I instantly recognized that I had just made a profound statement — he had fought for me, in Europe, Asia, and Southeast Asia. So has every one of you who served in the military.
I had tried to serve, but with limited hearing in one ear, I was told I had to hear in both ears so the military could make me deaf! My war would have been Vietnam, but I was destined to sit it out — which gives me a twinge of survivors’ guilt from time to time.
But you who did go, voluntarily or drafted, busting brush in Vietnam or driving a truck in Germany — you fought for me! And you younger troops, shuffling through the sand in Iraqi or climbing hills in Afghanistan — you fought for me! — and fight for me!
I know full well that some of you were not at the sharp end, where people get hurt, while others willing ran toward the gunfire and explosions. Some were cooks or bakers, riflemen or intel folks, tankers or pilots, clerks or mechanics, but you served. Whether you pulled a trigger or put oil in an engine, push letters on a keyboard or loaded ammo on a truck, you did your share and more for me
And all of those who went before — in The War to End all Wars, the Civil War, the Revolution — they too fought for me. I may not know their name, and their remains may be in Arlington or some unmarked grave in some forgotten field, but they fought for me — and you, and you, and you.
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, you left your home, you left your loved ones, and some, too many, left your life. You fought for our flag, our Constitution, our rights; you fought for the one to your left and your right, you fought for us all.
You fought for me, for us, for America!
Seth R. Nadel,