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News > Top 3 1st Place Essay: "Why do veterans deserve our support, respect and understanding?"
Veterans Day 2011
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Top 3 1st Place Essay: "Why do veterans deserve our support, respect and understanding?"

Posted 11/10/2011   Updated 11/10/2011 Email story   Print story


by Senior Master Sgt. Ara Shishmanian
46th Aerial Port Squadron

11/10/2011 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- (Editor's note: Earlier in the year, the 512th Top 3 Association held an essay contest, awarding 3rd and 2nd place finalists with gift cards, and the first place winner received a free mess dress uniform. For Veterans Day 2011, here's the winning essay.)

President John F. Kennedy stated, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them."

Armed service veterans are the life blood of our nation; they have seen and paid the cost of protecting our liberty. Each represents our nation's heartbeat, and without this pulse, there would cease to be life.

Many have given the ultimate sacrifice; others are handicapped for life - all in the belief that America would remain the beacon of individual freedoms. They deserve our utmost support.

Experiences from service are forever in each veteran's mind; and, many times are more than any human can handle. Living through the events of war cannot always be explained as they are so painful. Veterans deserve our respect of this commitment, self-sacrifice and willingness to fight for the rights of all people. 

In September 2010, our unit returned from a deployment to Iraq. Our first steps on U.S. soil were at Loring Air Force Base, Maine. Entering the terminal, there was a line of veterans to shake our hands and welcome us home. I couldn't hold the tears back as men and women, many dressed in uniform, were thanking me. Their only desire was to offer us each a genuine handshake, direct us to a cup of coffee, and hand us a cell phone, so we could call anyone we wanted to.

I called my parents from that terminal, and I can still hear my mother's voice of thankfulness that we were safe. That day, I too, became a veteran, not just a service member, as I understood that the greatest patriot is the one who demands nothing but the chance to serve his or her country.

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