To Frank Buckles - America's last surviving veteran of the Great War, who is still fighting battles - and to his brothers-in-arms who thought they could end war: Thank you.
To my Grandfather Lind and his generation, who survived a Depression and then fought to keep the world safe for democracy: Thank you.
To my Grandfather Dillehay and his compatriots, who less than a decade after the greatest conflagration in the history of the world, went to a forgotten and broken peninsula, one still split asunder today: Thank you.
To the men of my parents' generation, who slogged through jungles and villages and cities, fighting enemies who came from all sides in a war that was largely unwinnable and who so often didn't come home to heroes' welcomes: Thank you.
To the men and women who in the fifty years after World War II never shot a rifle or pulled a grenade pin, but sat white-knuckled and wide-eyed as the world teetered on the brink for decades: Thank you.
To the men and women of my generation, to those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere else, who dispelled the cynical notion that Generations X and Y didn't care enough to sign up for service when their country needed them: Thank you.
To those I served with, especially to two guys who were with me from the first, snowy day of boot camp to the sunnier days in San Diego to the late nights in a bunker in Cornwall. To Carlos from the South Bronx, who joined the Navy to support his family and who used the GI Bill to go to culinary school (although it would be hard to improve on his natural talents in the kitchen), who was so full of loyalty to those he cared about and who smiled through it all. To Will from Soddy-Daisy, who is still in the service, who is going to be the first person in his family to finish college, who I'm proud to have called shipmate, brother and friend. To all the rest who struggled with me in Chicago, who learned with me in San Diego and who served with me in Norfolk, in the Arctic Ocean and in St. Mawgan: Thank you.
Hug a veteran today and listen to their stories.
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