American Veteran Essays

The Hartford Courant congratulates the students who participated in the 2005 Annual Veterans Day Poster/Essay Contest. The contest, sponsored in partnership with the CT Veterans Day Parade Committee, invites 6th, 7th and 8th graders in Greater Hartford to convey, in words and pictures, what it means to be a military veteran.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Valerie Stickles
Grade 7, Captain Nathan Hale Middle School, Coventry
2005 Winner

A man boarding a boat,
Waving to his wife,
He may never see her again,
This may end his life.

He feels the boat take off,
He's headed on his way.
His daughter starts to cry,
"Why did Daddy go away?"

His family is getting smaller,
Now they look like ants.
As they disappear,
He gets one last glance.

What is lying ahead for him?
Will he live to tall the tale?
As he approaches the dock,
He hears a soldier wail.

War is horrible, it is death,
Man killing his own brother,
Is that what we're on Earth for?
Just to kill one another?

This many is a veteran,
He made it through it all.
Although he lost an arm,
He still stands strong and tall.

He made it through the terror,
Thinking he would die.
He made it through the killing,
And the late nights when he would cry.

He made it through the missing
His wife and family so,
He made it through not being able
To see his daughter grow.

He sacrificed his life
To protect the USA,
He put himself in danger
Every single day.

When it comes to protection,
Veterans are the key.
This many is a hero,
That's what a veteran means to me.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Steven Apicello
Grade 7
Vernon Center Middle School
2005 Runner-Up

What is a veteran? Is it a soldier, a person in the air force, someone fighting in the marines? That's not what they are to me. They are freedom fighters, answering the call of duty, responding to our prayers, and most importantly that they help fight for our country, the United States of America.

Through the years we have faced many challenges that we will recognize forever. One war that we have never forgotten and never will is the Revolutionary War. In 1861 to 1865 there was another war we will always remember, The Civil War. In our union, we fought with 2,213,363 service members against 600,000 – 1,500,000 confederate soldiers. We also couldn't forget World War 1 and World War II. Still the most terrifying event that changed our lives was September 11, 2001. We pledged every day to our flag, prayed for them, and saluted those who had saved other's lives by giving up theirs. The tragic nightmare will remind us to make our world a better place.

When Francis Scott Key wrote the star spangled banner almost two hundred years ago, he called America "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Those words still stand strong today as they did back then. Throughout our history American soldiers, marines, air force, and coastguards have bravely answered to defend for our freedom and rights. That is why we as Americans should respect our veterans and thank them for what they have done for all of us, and that is why President Dwight D. Eisenhower said these words: "Now therefore I, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, do hereby call upon all citizens to observe Thursday, November 11th as Veteran's Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, on foreign shores to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that there efforts shall not be in vain."

I would like to personally thank the veterans for their bravery and dedication. However I would like to thank my Papa and remember my Papa Nick for their years of service to our country. Thank you!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ashley Enns
Grade 6
Canton Intermediate School
2005 Runner-Up

What it means to be a veteran is to feel the DUTY to protect our country and to fight for what you believe in. It means to LOVE your country enough to sacrifice your life if necessary. It means to have FAITH in God, your country, and your beliefs.

What it means to be a veteran is to risk your life to help others HEAL when they could not do it on their own. It means to be APPRECIATED by the people you have fought for and protected. It means to have HONOR in everything you do and say.

What it means to be a veteran is to take PRIDE in your service to our country. It means to be PROUD you stood for something.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ashley Pinero and Ada Sierra
Grade 6
Pulaski Middle School, New Britain

To me a veteran is someone who loves this country very much. A veteran must love their country in order to leave her or his family for freedom. Not just for their freedom but for all of ours. That is what being a veteran means to me.

What being a veteran means to be is to be brave. To be brave is to stand up, and face your enemy for freedom, protecting your country out of danger, and living in peace. That's what being a veteran means to me.

To be a veteran means to be proud of yourself. A veteran has to be very proud of what they are doing for our country and for us. Why? Because there are many people who want to hurt our country. But, those people who are now joining the military, and our veterans, they are protecting our country from harm. That is what being a veteran means to me.

What being a veteran means to me is to die for this country, to not want this country to be ruled by bad people, and to always protect it. Because if you don't love this country, why would you fight for it? Veterans fight for this country because they love it. They'll do anything for this country, even die for it. That is what being a veteran means to me.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Darianna Gonzalez
Grade 6
Pulaski Middle School, New Britain

Being a veteran means leaving your family. When veterans leave their family they become very sad because they will miss them.

When people first join the military they have their arms and their legs. Veterans, sometimes lose their arms and their legs, and are never the same as they were before.

Veterans usually can't eat or take a bath. At war they get hungry and dirty. But sometimes there is no eating or taking a bath at war.

Veterans don't get paid a lot of money, but they still die saving this country. They die because they love this country, and all of us.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Geround Kelley
Grade 8
Pulaski Middle School, New Britain

I think we all have a lot to thank veterans for. If it had not been for these veterans defending citizens of the United States in past wars, we may not be free right now. These men and women dedicated their lives to our freedom, and this took a great deal of bravery and sacrifice. Many veterans even died, and I have seen on the news where many more are still dying, and families are losing their loved ones. It is very sad that thee people lost their lives, but they knew the risks and felt it was their duty and honor to fight on our behalf.

My definition of a veteran is any man or woman who fought in a war and served for our country. Some people only honor those veterans who have passed on, but I believe all veterans deserve special thanks and recognition. Veterans' Day is the day the United States sets aside for this purpose; however, I believe we should all try to honor veterans as often and as much as we can.

Many of my friends have family members who are veterans, and so do I. My grandfather was a veteran. If only he was alive today, he could help me write this essay and explain to me how he served our country. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before I was born, so I do not know much about his service, but I know he served, and I am proud that he was a veteran.

Women can be veterans, too. My friend's mother served as a nurse in the United States Army. She cared for injured soldiers hurt during the war. We should remember and thank all the women who served our country.

Both of my brothers want to join the Army, and although I don't think I want to, I support their decision, and one day I will be proud to honor them as veterans. This is what I know about veterans, I hope to learn more about them in the future. God bless those who have lost family members who served our country. We thank the veterans and their families for all that they have done.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ajeela Williams
Grade 6
West Middle Elementary School, Hartford

What does it mean to be a veteran? A veteran is a man or woman that use to work in the United States armed services. Veterans have done many wonderful things. They fought for our country and helped us get our freedom. Veterans fought in many deadly battles. Many of them watched as their close friends died in combat. They risked their lives for our so that we could have our rights and freedoms. Due to their courage, we have many freedoms such as freedom of speech and religion. Freedom of speech is when I can say anything I want. If I really wanted to, I could walk outside and yell, "I hate Bush", and no one will or can do anything to me. In other countries people don't have the right to practice freedom of speech or their own religion. Their ruler or President might hang them, chop off their heads, or might even make them stand in a line and shoot them one by one! Veterans fought so we don't have to worry about such awful things. That's why I'm thankful that our country has veterans. Veterans fought so hard to serve our country. When veterans were in battles, many of them got hurt really, really badly. When they got hurt, they got rushed to an emergency room. As soon as they recovered, they went straight back into battle. Veterans tried their hardest to win these battles. Some of them wouldn't have surrendered at all. They would've fought to the death. Every morning, in my class, we all say the Pledge of Allegiance. It is very important to me that we say the Pledge of Allegiance because it shows respect for our country and for our brave veterans. God bless America and God bless our veterans!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Shamiel Samuels
Grade 6
West Middle Elementary School, Hartford

A veteran is a man or woman that has served in the United States armed services. However, being a veteran means so much more than that! A veteran is a well trained person that fought in the army, marines, or air force. They gladly risked their lives to fight against countries that threatened our freedom. It makes me feel happy and comfortable knowing that there are such brave veterans that have fought for our country.

It is important to my class for everyone to say the pledge of allegiance in the morning at 8:10. It shows respect for our country and for the veterans that fought to preserve our freedom. In America we have the privilege of having many freedoms that people in other countries do not. For example, we have freedom of speech and the freedom to practice whatever religion we want. They are the ones that make our world a better place to live in. Veterans are the ones who risked their lives for our freedom, so I think they should get a lot of respect. People in the army can be very stressed and tired of working but they still keep their heads up high and do their best to win every battle they are faced with.

We are so lucky to have very brave veterans because they worked so hard to serve our country. They fought in many hard battles to protect our country which helped us gain our rights and our freedoms. Veterans are hard working people. People should have respect for what they have done. Maybe if people didn't care about the veterans, they wouldn't care about their job and we probably wouldn't have any freedom.

Hardworking, brave, loyal, and unselfish are adjectives that describe what I feel it means to be a veteran.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Moriah Perrett
Grade 6
Andover Elementary School

Whether it is in an office, on a battlefield, or at a switchboard, it takes a hero to be a veteran. Bravery and patriotism are characteristics of veterans. Veterans' Day was created to honor all people who have served, fought, and died for our country and our freedom. People who served in the military and gave their services, risked their lives, and lost their lives for us are all veterans: They deserve our thanks.

When people think of veterans, a word that might come to mind is hero. Soldiers leave their homes, families, and friends to fight for our country and the freedom we believe in so strongly. If a brother, cousin, uncle, or friend gets killed during a battle, veterans keep going. They need to wait until a later time to grieve, cry, and mourn their lost companions. Soldiers endure loss, blistering cold, scorching heat, trench foot, and more. That is a Hero.

Being brave does not mean wearing a red cape, moving faster then a speeding bullet, or having massive muscles; it means doing ones duty, even when it is unpleasant or seemingly unbearable. During an attack or a battle, there may be bombs falling, bullets flying, blood, pain, and the death of soldiers and civilians. It takes bravery to live through that. Years later, when veterans are safely home, nightmarish scenes are often still vivid in their minds. The soldier, the veteran, does not complain. When young men and women enlist in the armed forces, they know the dangers they face. They still enlist and are willing to risk their lives for the freedom of their country because they believe. They feel proud. Soldiers leave home, go overseas, fight for our country, and either die proud or come home proud. That is Bravery.

Veterans are extremely patriotic because they risk their lives in battle for America. Patriotism means a great deal to veterans because they have such a strong love for Lady Liberty, the U.S.A. To go through all of the pressure and loss of war for our country shows they have true patriotism and love for America. Veterans go through numerous hardships and sleepless nights for our freedom. To this day, veterans from World War II remember The Battle of Normandy and how much American blood was spilled that day. They are true patriots in America's history.

Veterans are extraordinarily heroic, brave, and patriotic. They fight for our freedom and our country. They live among us proudly. Veterans love America and all that she stands for dearly.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Loren Madore
Grade 6
Andover Elementary School

In a nursing home, three men sit around me. They are wearing uniforms decorated with badges and pins. They talk to me about the days when they were in the war and protecting our country was their first priority. These men trained for many weeks so that when danger came they would be ready. Each saw things most people would see only in nightmares and were willing to give their lives so we could be free. These men are veterans.

Veterans work very hard so that if they need to go to battle they are prepared. They have to practice for many weeks and train in lots of different situations, on land when they are in the Army and at sea if they are in the Marines. Our veterans are very dedicated and take time away from their families to serve our country. They set good examples to people around the world. When veterans are not on duty, they like to have fun just like any other person. You might see one in the mall or at the movies. Maybe you have a family member who is a veteran.

Some veterans go through the most terrible things that people can experience. They are forced to kill people and even watch friends die. These are pictures most see only in nightmares. Such things make veterans' jobs terrible. Some veterans are nurses or doctors, and they help wounded soldiers. This is a job that is hard to bear.

Some veterans have gone into battle and not come out. One of those veterans was Christopher Hoskins. Christopher was a loving son and brother who died in Iraq along with many other soldiers. I had the privilege to attend his funeral in his hometown of Killingly, Connecticut. Many important people attended, such as government representatives for Connecticut. I even met some of Christopher's elementary school friends. He is very important will be remembered. Christopher paid the ultimate price in defending our country. I live a safe life thanks to his service.

Veterans are extraordinarily important people. They work so hard for all of us. They train hard and, when sent to battle, see disturbing things that might haunt them for the rest of their lives. Many die so that we can live free, unlike many other countries in the world. So next time you see a veteran, think of him or her as someone exceptional. Honor veterans for their service, and thank them for their dedication.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Lisa Murawski
Grade 7
East Hartford Middle School

Did you know that each and every day soldiers are fighting for the rights of our country? On Veteran's Day, we recognize those who fought for our rights, freedom, and our country. These soldiers put their life on the line for our nation. These veterans have all went through the pain of seeing people die, and knowing at any moment that it might have been them. All veterans' have three things in common: love, honor, and respect for America. All veteran's helped serve our country in one way or another, whether it was making sure all the planes were ready to fly, serving food to the soldiers, or getting out there and fighting. I appreciate these veterans. Some people do not understand how much work they have done for us. Whether these veterans fought in Iraq or in World War II, they all gave up their time for America. I cannot imagine the feeling of being there and fighting, to be so scared and so brave at the same time. Next time you are able to take a glimpse of the American Flag, take a moment and think of all the veterans that served our country. I am proud to be an American.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Rumanah Kasliwala
Grade 7
East Hartford Middle School

Happy Veterans Day to all!! Today I will be talking about what happened on Veterans Day. In 1918, on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an Armistice was signed. The "War to End All Wars" was over. On July first it was Armistice Day and that day a man named Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the day and name to Veterans Day. They honored all the people who served the world, state, country, and the whole Universe. Today the Armies, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and the Navy helped our country. Today will be Veterans Day 2005 and I think they all deserve a thank you and we should tell them what a wonderful job they did in serving their country. Veterans Day is a day that is very important for everyone. People should remember what they did for your life and how they saved your life. Would you risk your life? I don't think so, but they did. Today is a day you should appreciate. Armistice Day officially received its name in American in 1926, through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar congressional action. Armistice Day is a day to honor everyone and it was originally commemorated by the Germans signing a paper to end World War I.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ashley Kinney
Grade 7
Mabelle B. Avery Middle School, Somers

To me, being a veteran means fighting for and protecting the people and the country that they love. It means making a lot of sacrifices, having courage, and knowing people have respect for them. It takes a lot of courage for people to say that they want to be in the military. They do it because they believe in and love our country and want to fight for those reasons. Soldiers know that joining the military means they will have to make sacrifices such as leaving the comfort of their home, leaving their family, and knowing that they have a chance of dieing. They know that their family understands that this is something that they want to do. Those people, the ones that stand up and take the challenge of going to war, know that the people in their country have a lot of respect for them. Without them, there would be no United States of America. It would be taken over by the terrorists and they would want to use their own cultures and their own holidays. The veterans are very brave. They not only fight on our land but all over the world. Veterans have helped us in so many ways for many centuries. That's what being veteran means to me.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Cassidy Caravella
Grade 6
Mabelle B. Avery Middle School, Somers

BOOM! BANG! "Look out there goes a bomb!" Someone could get hurt! Someone could be killed! But do they stop to say that? No! They stand up for our country whether it means LIFE or DEATH! They may know how to defend themselves, but letting go of their wife/husband, and children? That can be a very difficult thing to do. Yes, it may seem like they were leaving you forever, but with years of experience, there's a good chance that they would come back alive! We love them! We adore them, and we take care of them. When we send canned foods and clothes to them, they are proud to be serving our country. That's why we now have 50 stars on our bright, beautiful flag that stands for freedom. But if they didn't fight in those terrible wars, there might still be starvation, or even wars happening all over again. Just like Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I have a dream," and so do they. We have a dream so powerful that nothing can stop it. Or dream is to make it so there's peace on each, and happiness, and some day, the people who fight for us in the Army and Navy, will make that dream come true. And you know what? They still are. They are so great they deserve a day of their own. It's day to rest and enjoy and a day for us to than them. That's what Veteran's Day is all about. The people who were, and still are fighting for the ones they love, protecting people from terrible deaths, are fighting for the U.S.A.! (The United States of America!), for FREEDOM, and you know what…It's working!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Brooke Ballard
Grade 6
Mabelle B. Avery Middle School, Somers

To me being a veteran means being willing to give your life to America because you could have died in the war. Giving your life to America shows that you love your family because you were fighting for them. The people that are usually a Veteran are loving, happy, brave and caring. I think that the veterans of America were not only soldiers but also were heroes to everyone. Every morning they probably woke up knowing it might be the day they die for their country. I had a great grandpa that got shot twice in World War II and he has a purple heart. My mom now keeps it in a safe place. I also had another great grandfather who fought in World War II, and a grandfather who all fought in the Korean War. A lot of people would not take the job of being a soldier knowing that they could die at any time. The people that took the job were not selfish because they were fighting for their families and America. The people that fought in the war made it so that we can have freedom today and go where we want to go and do what we want to do.

Freedom is worth fighting for. Well people fight for their families and for the freedom that we have today, not all people have that. People also fight for the country so that all of us can live here and go to school here and so we can have food to eat and clean water to drink. I respect the veterans for what they have done for me. They should all be remembered as heroes.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Kathleen Ayotte
Grade 6
St. Martha School, Enfield

A veteran is any person that has served in the Armed Forces. These veterans risk their lives to help and protect our country. We should give our respect and honor to these brave people on Veterans Day. Many of these honorable veterans are now dead, but others are alive right now. Many people today have relatives that are veterans. My own uncle is a veteran, and he wears a tattoo showing that he was in the navy. A lot of veterans are very smart people with college degrees. Some travel throughout the whole world both on land and on the seas. They make numerous sacrifices such as leaving a good job, leaving their families, and leaving schools. Veterans may be subject to very bad injuries which may even lead to death. They chance this for us and our country.

During one of the wars my great, great uncle helped out a great hero when he was in danger and needed a ride. I am proud of him. You should also be proud of what the veterans have accomplished. I was so interested that I looked up information about the following veterans: Kevin John Joyce, Thomas Joseph Conners, and Dwain Ursy Mcgriff. I am so glad that the names of veterans are printed on the Wall in Washington, D.C. They deserve our respect and appreciation on Veterans Day.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Nichole O'Brien
Grade 7
St. Martha School, Enfield

A veteran's life is a good life: traveling the world, getting to see famous places, and being honored on Veterans Day.

Even though being a veteran has its ups, it can also have its downs. While in the Armed Forces, veterans may have to risk their lives to protect our country and our way of life. Risking arm and limb for people they don't know seems really special to me. Awarding medals and citations is the least we can do for them. Families that wait by the phone to see if their family member is OK are always relieved to see them come home and be honored with parades, celebrations, and awards. That is the happiest possibility in the world for them.

Veterans make a great difference in our community. Just knowing I am safe makes a big difference to me. That is why on this Veterans Day we should respect, honor, and thank our veterans for the great work they have done for us.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Katie Kupchunos
Grade 7
Vernon Center Middle School

Have you ever wondered why you and I are safe, free, and protected? We are safe, free, and protected because Americans step up to the plate and risk their lives for ours. If they die they will die with honor and respect. They have walked out onto war grounds to see us live free, safe, and protected. They are VETERANS!

Anyone who went on war grounds is a veteran. A veteran is a person who has had experience at war, and/or a person who had served in war. Basically someone who is willing to die for their country is a veteran. For example what Nathan Hale said, "I only regret that I have, but one life to lose for my country." He in my eyes is one of our veterans. In a 1993 encyclopedia is read that 87 million veterans fought in war including the 27 million still living. Lon times ago when war was around 18 year old boys and older men were going to war. Some were only 18 year old boys and they had to see the horror and pain of war, watching people die before them. It is very hard to go to war so we owe veterans a lot. Without veterans our future would be different. The past veterans have helped shape our future. In other words veterans are everyone's heroes and we owe them a lot.

Did you know that you didn't have to carry around a gun to be a veteran? They could have been a cook, mailman, mechanic, support personal, driver of a car, computer operator, medics, supply officer, file clerks.

In my opinion you don't even have to be on war grounds to be called a veteran. You could have been someone who worked at a base. For example my uncle Jim is in the air force, but he hasn't' been on war grounds with a gun. He is a mechanic who works on the planes at a base in Texas. In my eyes my uncle Jim or anyone else who is like him is a veteran.

Do you know where we would be without veterans? I believe our country would be broken, who knows we could be ruled by Japan without our veterans. To answer the question, what it means to be a veteran? Being a veteran means stepping up for their country, someone who knows the risk of being at war, but will stand up tall and fight for their country. Someone who is honored all over America and someone who makes us safe, free, and protected. We owe them a lot! Who knows where we would be without them. God Bless America and Thanks to Veterans!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Stewart Henderson
Grade 7
St. James School, Manchester

Veterans mean a lot to me. I value the fact that someone will risk their life so that we can be free. Many of these veterans died because they stood up for what was right. To protect us from fear, many brave people have lost their lives.

Many people sacrificed their lives for our freedom. 116,708 Americans died in World War I. 417,316 GIs lost their lives in World War II. In the Korean War 33,651 U.S. servicemen died, and 58,168 Americans soldiers died in Vietnam.

Now in Iraq many people are fighting to keep our country safe from terrorism. They are making sure that we are safe. They are enforcing law in a place that needs it.

I understand what it means to be a veteran from hearing the stories about my grandfathers. Both served our country during World War II. They were brave men who enlisted right after the attack on Pearl Harbor because of their sense of duty to America. One of my grandfathers was in the Army and served here in the U.S., while the other served aboard a Coast Guard ship in the South Pacific. I'm proud of their dedication to our country and its principles.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Tyler Detorie
Grade 6
Canton Intermediate School

Being a U.S. military veteran is such an incredible honor. I should know, my dad flew his A-10 Thunderbolt II in the Iraqi Freedom War. I would love to be a veteran too and have a whole country worth of people look up to me, like I do to my own dad, but its just way too scary for me. Just think about it, having millions of foreign people shoot at you from the ground or from big bombers in the sky. It's scary period, even if you're in an airplane. Being a veteran means that you sacrifice your own life for your country. Not only do the veterans sacrifice their lives for us, but they also sacrifice time from their families, and in my dad's case, his primary job as a commercial pilot. All of the veterans didn't only fight in the war because they were called upon to do it, but because they wanted to help our country and protect us from the Iraqi tyranny. My dad was quoted saying "Primarily, I wanted to serve my country and fly jets" to the Farmington Valley Post. What it means to me to be a veteran is great respect, pride, and honor. All these traits are definitely earned by our U.S. veterans.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Kristie Nardini
Grade 7
John F. Kennedy Middle School, Plantsville

I would like to tell you about my two favorite veterans. But first of all, what is a veteran? Why are they so special? What did they do?

Well, veterans are people who used to serve in the war. Veterans are so special because they helped make the world the way it is today. Without soldiers, black people would still be slaves! But we won the war mostly because of our soldiers, and are lucky to have veterans that survived. So many people are happy to have their loved ones back home. As an honor to them, we celebrate the 11th day of the 11th month as Veterans Day.

So, who are my two favorite veterans? One of them is my grandfather Daniel Robert Nardini. He was in the navy for World War 2. He signed himself up when he was 18. Daniel was a signal man on the USS Long Island. He visited Japan but did not see any combat. I love my grandfather and he is so special to me.

My other favorite veteran is my grandfather John Wesley Hosmer. He wanted to be in the army when he was 17, but he only weighed 122 lbs, and you have to be 130 lbs. In June of 1944, he graduated from high school. On July 4th he joined the service. He wanted to be a pilot but did not have good enough eyesight. So instead, he became a military policeman and was in combat. He told himself that if he ever came back from the war alive, he would be a minister praising God. Well, this veteran was true to his own word. He returned from the army and went to seminary school. Then my grandfather became a minister in Connecticut. He married my parents and baptized my sister and me. Now my grandfather is in God's house.

Both of my grandfathers are veterans of World War 2. I am so glad that they have a day dedicated to them and all of the other veterans who have made such a difference in this world.

This essay is dedicated to Grandpa Nardini.

In memory of Grandpa Hosmer.

Copyright © 2018, Hartford Courant

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[WHY VETERANS ARE SPECIAL 1 The biggest sacrifices veterans have made for their country do not just happen on the battlefield. They happen quietly, without fanfare, without recognition. They happen in small homes and living rooms, with only those left behind as witnesses. Everything a veteran must do is a sacrifice, from leaving behind their lives, to stepping onto the battlefield. The sacrifice of time is just as important as the bravery shown in war, and oftentimes much more difficult. These sacrifices are what make veterans special. Veterans became veterans because they possessed the honor, bravery, and patriotism that they needed to stand up for their country. These men and women represent everything that we, as a nation, fight to protect, everything we value in life. Our honor, our liberty, our livelihood, lies with them. Our nation's veterans pledge their lives to our defense, so that, in their absence, we can continue to live in freedom, and enjoy our time in life. Veterans are separate from our everyday struggles. They represent our country as a whole, people of every belief coming together and standing strong. They do not pledge themselves to us simply because it is their duty. They have a deep-seated belief that this country is worth fighting for, and they volunteer to be the ones to step forward in its protection. The patriotism in their hearts is what allows everyday life to continue unimpeded; it is how they advance and do what they must for the good of the country as a whole, not just what they would want themselves. The veterans in our country show the most valued trait in civic virtue; selflessness, the ability to put their entire country before themselves as individuals. Veterans devote their entire lives to the improvement of society, in the hope that we do I WHY VETERANS ARE SPECIALI ..- not befall the same mistakes as those before us. Veterans are those who have volunteered themselves for their country, they are the people we salute every day, the men and women we respect in the highest honor. America's veterans choose their path knowing the difficulties it will hold, knowing the sacrifices they will be required to make, fully aware that they may never return, but safe in the knowledge that they are supported by their country. Our veterans are special because they alone understand the true cost of freedom, and are willing to pay that price so that our posterity may enjoy the benefits of that freedom, and so our country can continue its legacy far beyond our imaginings. Marilise Stamps Extraordinary Veterans What makes veterans extraordinary is how ordinary they appear to be. Veterans might be somebody's uncle, mother, daughter or brother. A veteran may be a father that teaches his son how to fix his car. A veteran couid be a child's grandfather who turns down his hearing aid when he doesn't want to listen to his wife. What you don't realize is that the father's mechanical skills come from repairing a ship's engine for 25 hours straight during the Korean War, and the grandfather lost his hearing from artillery fire in World War I. The quiet, ordinary lives of veterans belie their courage and sacrifices they made for this country. Not a lot of people could pick a veteran out from a crowd. They don't walk around decked out in medals, or brag about what they have experienced. You can't see what they've seen, or know what they know. All of this seems to be locked in a vault somewhere inside of them, and no one is allowed to see. How, then, are we supposed to distinguish these veterans from ordinary people? How are we supposed to honor them for what they've accomplished for our country through courage and valor? Can it be that veterans don't expect us to recognize them for what they've done? Veterans could just be exceptional people who don't seek exceptional treatment. Look around you. Look for that ordinary individual that may not be so ordinary. Look for that person who doesn't stand out in a crowd but deserves to. Look for that selfless individual who gave more than most of us dream of giving. Recognize that person who didn't seek recognition. You never know, that mother, father, daughter, brother, or grandfather may be a veteran, and veterans are extraordinary no matter how ordinary they appear to be. i Whv are Veterans Special? Doc Hastings once said, "We owe our World War i! veterans - and all our veterans - a debt we can never fully repay." But why is this? Why do we owe people that we don't even know? Could the reason be because of the sacrifices they made or the bravery they showed? Could it be for the tough times they have gone through and still have to go through? Maybe we owe our veterans for a much simpler reason. Maybe we owe them for not being extra ordinary, but for being extraordinary. Maybe we owe veterans simply for being special. Many people ask why others risk their lives. Countless stories have been told about people losing not just their lives, but their limbs, identity, and even their mental abilities. The question is, therefore, why risk even the chance of this happening? Why not let others fight while you just sit back and watch? Many people choose to sit back, but what makes veterans special is that they chose to go into action. Some might have enlisted because of the influence of family; others, because they felt that they had to protect themselves or their loved ones. Some veterans chose to enlist in the armed services because they felt patriotic. There are many reasons why veterans have chosen to join the military, but that doesn't mean any reason is less special than the others. Anytime anyone risks losing themselves for the purpose of the greater good, it is special. Veterans have done this time and time again in their lives. This continuous act results in changing others' lives. Country artist Keith Urban wrote a song saying, "1 would give my life... I would make that sacrifice. Cause if it came down to it, could I take the bullet, yes i would. For you." Many people don't have the type of bravery to take a bullet for another person or group of people. Imagine strapping on boots that you know could be torn right off your feet. Imagine jumping out of an airplane behind enemy lines. Imagine living on a US aircraft carrier fearing the threat of underwater mines every day. Think of the bravery it would take to be in any of those scenarios. Many veterans have their own memories like that. Many veterans are brave and return home to tell the tale... but countless stories tell of veterans who are brave that don't make it back home. Veterans have that rare bravery, and that's what makes them set apart from the rest. So why do we owe these people? Do we owe them for protecting our freedoms, or risking their lives for us and our country? Do we owe them for the great number of sacrifices they have made in their lives, or for their rare bravery which they possess? Maybe we owe veterans for not being ordinary. We owe them for being extraordinary. Or maybe we owe veterans for just a much simpler reason— we owe veterans because they are special. Peace from Sacrifice Ethan Forte War makes a great plot for book or movie, but few people have actually had to go through the pain, and suffering that it can bring upon a human being. Whether it is a medic having to tend to a body that has been mutilated and broken, or a solider watching a fellow comrade die in battle, to suffering an injury themselves, veterans have endured. When people are active in the military, they are usually away from family and friends. While they are fighting across seas, in distant countries, risking their lives for their own country, the majority of American citizens are enjoying the peace that comes from their sacrifice. America has not seen war in its own country since the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy. We have been kept safe from outside threats because of the veterans who have served in our country. If not for them we may not be living in the free, independent, first world we find ourselves in today. Veterans have endured, and sacrificed. Terrorists and other threats have opposed our country time and again, but because of the veterans we are safe. Veterans have fought for us and kept our country free and because of them we are free. Veterans have sacrificed their time, their welibeing, and even their lives. We remember, honor, and respect veterans for all that they have done for their country and will always hold a special place in our hearts. Without veterans who have fought for those around them, America would not be the same. Julia Schaller America Is Beautiful Not too long ago I visited the Veteran's Hospital to deliver thank you cards to the veterans. As I walked down the halls of the hospital, it all came to life in front of me. There I was, standing on the battlefield or crawling through a ditch dodging death and trying to drown out the noise of gunfire with thoughts of home. Coming back to reality, I turned the corner with some of my peers as the nurse led us down another hallway. This time, more of the rooms were open so we could go in and say hello and drop off some cards of appreciation to the veterans. As I walked into the door, I was a little nervous. I don't have the best time talking to people I don't know, I've always been that way. But as I started up conversation with a veteran, it became easy. And when it came to giving the thank you cards and moving on to the next room, I was genuine. We all are. Just being in the same room as a veteran was a complete honor. Every room told a different story. Each veteran was honorable in their own way. All veterans are, regardless of their circumstances. Being there and writing cards to the veterans made me realize how incredibly important they are to our country. Veterans have risked their lives to fight for our country. They fought for peace and justice, and devoting your live to fight for the peace and justice of others is something huge worth honoring. Veterans everywhere, even at the hospitals, should walk with pride and glory, knowing what they've done. Knowing they've changed the lives of millions. One man's work can save thousands. This got me to thinking that people should do this every day. Veterans should get nationally more recognition, especially through schools. Our nation takes much pride in our veterans, and loves them very much, but even more could be done. Even if it's just taking time out of your day to write them letters to be delivered. Veterans deserve the utmost respect, appreciation, acknowledgment, and glory. America Is Beautiful After spending years of their life dedicated to us as citizens, we as citizens should pay it back to them by giving them what they deserve. America is beautiful, and our veterans had a huge impact on making America beautiful. Cole Gallagher Courageous for our Freedom "The secret of freedom is courage." This apt quote by Thucydides is to me the essence of freedom. And the ones courageous enough to have fought for my freedom are veterans. War demands a special kind of courage, both physical and moral. You see willingness to risk life and limb, and strength to endure hardships with admirable determination. The cost of my freedom was high, but it is my honor to be able to thank a veteran for their service in protecting my freedom. Veterans impact us everywhere in our daily lives. Both of my parents are veterans, and I normally see at least one person with a veteran's patch on at the grocery store. So, as you can see, veterans are everyday people dispersed throughout our lives. They are not some person that nobody knows; they are our family members, our friends, our coworkers. These courageous people are very real in our lives, and it takes unwavering loyalty to ones country to leave behind family, life, and home to serve in protecting our freedom. Freedom is a precious gift. It takes the courage and sacrifice of thousands to attain, and many more to keep. I cannot imagine what hardships veterans had to endure, but it is with gratefulness that I can stand here today as a free person, living in such a way that I can bring honor to those who have sacrificed so much for me. It takes a very special kind of person to be a veteran, so honor our veterans for what they have done and who they are. Veterans Essay Elizabeth Clapp Rockbridge High School Teacher; Jennifer Cone Class of 2013 1705 Stanford Drive 65203 Columbia Missouri Your loved ones are always just a phone call away. Every night you sleep in a warm bed with all your comforts of home surrounding you. Then the next day you go to work and watch the clock till it's time to leave. You complain about the small things, people you don't like, something that didn't go your way, the waitress hasn't brought your food fast enough, or there's a bug on your windshield. In truth all of your problems are as small as that bug. We live in a nation forged from freedom and we owe our lives to the people who bled and died for this pure land. We are all connected, a quote from Common Since by Thomas Paine says, "It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home countries and the back, the rich and the poor will suffer and rejoice alike." Materialistic ideas rule our lives but "it's our dearness only that gives everything its value." Our values in life have shifted and we need to take some time to appreciate what is really dear. Objects don't last forever but freedom will always be there, same as relationships for they hold steadfast from our lifetime into the next. Be thankful for everything that you have, because if it weren't for the many veterans who have lived and died fighting for us, you would have nothing. They are the sole foundation that holds us together and they will be there time and time again to preserve our freedom. Forever and Always Ashley Rippeto Rockbridge High School Becky Rippeto 12730 S. Rippeto Rd, 65203 573-657-0147 He missed them so much; their light, their smiles, their ways. His wife and his little boy, Dylan, oh how they grieved in his heart. He wanted to go home now. He didn't want to wait any longer; but then again he couldn't complain, it would only be 2 more days till his four years were up and he could rightfully go home. He reflected on the Vietnam War. What a terrible war it had been. So much blood and tears and pain. His wife had said people change in war, for this is why she never wanted him to leave; but he felt obligated. He knew he had to. Like a dog should come to the whistle of its owner, he must obey his country's call. She begged him not to leave; for her; for their at the time 8 year old son, he would be 12 in a month and 9 days. The thought of missing his past birthdays sickened him. His son did not want him to go, but he never did beg. He simply said, "Goodbye, Daddy. I love you." His sons words echoed in his head, my oh my how he needed to be home. Today was the day. His four years rang done. He was already on a plane, on his way back to Missouri. He missed his home-town too. Columbia didn't have a lot to offer, but his family did. He could smell the vast un-desired Missouri atmosphere already. He had a 20 hour flight. He didn't want to wait on this crowded plain any longer. He wanted to hold his wife and provide for her like he was supposed to. He wanted to embrace his son; and to see the man he was growing up to be. The only communication he had with his family was letters his wife had written to him and him replying back as quickly as possible. The last letter he sent was about 2 months ago. He guessed it failed to reach her; for she usually responded three weeks after his letters. Why did she not answer? These ideas drowned his thoughts and worried him, but he tried to keep them out of his mind. He was going home! Before he could take the first step into his familiar driveway, the door that played its familiar squeaking-tune slammed open. Out ran his little boy. "Daddy!" he cried. All he knew in that moment was the feeling of his son's warm embrace. He stroked his hair as he whispered gentle I miss you's. He looked up at the door once again to see his wife. He ran to her. They kissed each other passionately, and he decided right then that he could never leave again. He looked into the eyes of his family gently, and murmured, "For our family is forever and always, and I will always love you both. I will never leave again."

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