An old man, aged by experience and time, carefully removes a crisp blue suit from its faded garment bag. Despite their long years together, this suit appears new, cherished and protected, saved for special occasions.
Friday is one of those occasions, and its time for this military dress uniform to breathe some fresh air.
The medals — earned in younger days — sparkle with an exceptional valor. Though this old man now struggles to shuffle down his stairs, this bravery has not diminished.
Like every year before, he’ll dress carefully, respectfully. He’ll look at himself proudly in the mirror, reminiscent of the age he discovered his love for a country he’d sacrifice everything for.
This old man will not be alone. Friday brave men and women of all ages will don their best military dress. They will stand united, resilient and fearless.
If we know our part, they will be set apart, celebrated.
Each of these men and women suffer more than we know. The things they’ve seen, the places they’ve been, don’t leave their minds when the soldier leaves the base.
It stays — forever.
It has been said, there’s no such thing as an unwounded soldier.
Many leave with physical wounds. These physical wounds turn into physical scars.
These physical scars leave an outward emblem of the soldiers’ heroism. These physical scars leave proof of their bravery.
Not every soldier leaves with this visible, undeniable proof.
When they get home, we consider them lucky. We tell them how grateful we are they could leave that war zone unscathed. We tell them we kept them in our prayers.
Then we stop praying.
Little do we know — or maybe we do know, and choose to ignore — these veterans struggle with something so much more than we give them credit for.
Every night many of the veterans awake from nightmares and terrors. Some of these dreams relive memories from decades back; some of them relive experiences from the month before.
Yes, these veterans can find help, but they still need our support.
Kudos to companies like Knott’s Berry Farm and Applebee’s who realize the great effect veterans have in our day-to-day lives.
Kudos to them for saying thanks in the best way they know how.
It may seem awkward to walk up to a soldier and shake their hand, but don’t you think it’s the least you can do?
Whether or not you believe in the reasons for war, the reasons for occupation, don’t you think it’s your place to honor those brave enough to face the onslaught of battle?
Often you can’t tell the difference between a soldier and another man on the street. They’re both dressed in civilian clothes, participating in civilian activities and speaking about civilian things.
They don’t walk around telling the general populace how much they hurt or how much they struggle. They don’t speak of those nights spent dreaming of snipers and bombs. They don’t talk of their mid-day panics and fears.
However, Friday, and probably all weekend, you’ll be able to spot them in their uniformed glory.
They’ll stand out from the crowd as brave examples a people who know there’s a country worth fight for.
They’ll be there to accept your thanks in anyway you know how to show it.
Speak to them, listen to them or simply wave as they walk by. They are real life super heroes — not the kind in comic books or movies. These men and women are the real deal.
They went out there for you — each and every one of you — the least you can do is make sure they know you appreciate them.
Happy Veterans Day.
This viewpoint represents the opinion of The Daily Universe and not necessarily that of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.