By: John Oram of BSN

Veterans Day reminds me of the two times I have been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC.

Each time I found the seven names of lost comrades I had served with in various units. The name that gave me the most pause was Larry Britten. Larry was my Eagle Scout leader when I was in Boy Scouts. Larry’s younger sister was one of my few friends during high school. Larry was at West Point Military Academy when I was an enlisted man at West Point. Larry was the one who persuaded me that a career in the military would not make me a happy camper.

Veterans Day reminds me of the many trips to the north-east corner of the State Capitol grounds, beside the State Capitol in Sacramento, and the memorial to California Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Each city, town and village in California has the names of those that gave their lives during the Vietnam Era fighting. The driving “force” to get the memorial built was B.T. Collins, a well-known figure in California government (and a former Special Forces Captain, who lost a leg and an arm in Vietnam). B.T. was also the driving force for the B.T. Collins “Captain Hook” Scholarship at Santa Clara University.

Being a Veteran means you have pledged to:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).”

Being a Veteran means you sacrificed your time, energy and were willing to sacrifice your life so fellow citizens can remain free of those burdens. Today’s military is made up of 100% volunteers, they are the less than one percent who are following the orders of our civilian government to do their duty as ordered.

It is up to those of us who are no longer or have not been in the military to directly voice our views to the civilian government officials as to how our military volunteers should be used to defend our nation.

We should all take one minute to silently remember all those that are in the military and especially those who are in a combat zone. Take a moment to reflect on the wounded military veterans who will live the rest of their lives with the physical and emotional scars from their service for us. And another one minute to remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to protect the nation we are citizens of.