A while back, an unknown author wrote, "A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a check to the United States of America, payable in any amount, up to and including his life."
Put another way, freedom is not free. It comes at a price — a high price.
Indeed, a blank check.
It has been reported that as many as 1,200 World War II veterans and a like number of Korean War veterans are passing away every day.
The average age of a World War II veteran is 92.
My dad, a Battle of the Bulge survivor, is 89.
Soon our Vietnam War veterans will face that same statistic, as presently, about 100,000 'Nam vets are passing away every year, and not all from natural causes.
The Department of Defense reports that suicide is the most frequent cause of death among active duty soldiers, surpassing both combat deaths and motor vehicle accidents. Several related studies show that rate of suicide among veterans is significantly higher than that of the general population.
On Nov. 11, at 1 p.m., in Riverside Park, during our annual Veterans Day Ceremony, the Bonita Springs Veterans Advisory Committee will unveil its gift to both the city and residents of Bonita — an all-services Veterans Memorial.
This deeply moving and beautiful tribute to both active duty servicemen and servicewomen, and veterans from all branches and all wars, bears the motto "No One Left Behind." This phrase is not only the universal creed of all our country's military; it is a promise made by today's veterans to all who wear the uniform of our nation's fighting forces.
Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.
Most Vietnam veterans recall the feelings of resentment by a large segment of society upon their return to the United States.
Speaking from personal experience as a Vietnam veteran, I know it was not a pleasant time for us. All we did was answer our country's call during a time of war — an unpopular conflict not of our making.
And while we can't turn back the hands of time, we can correct that horrible mistake — that feeling of abandonment — by showing support toward today's returning troops as they redeploy back to the U.S.
They'll need it.
In closing, I have one request. Whenever and where ever you see a veteran today, especially a World War II or Korean War vet, thank them for their service because it may be their last Veterans Day.
And if you see Vietnam veterans, thank them too, because it may the first time anyone ever has.