I’m not sure how it happened, but many Americans don’t know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Memorial Day is in May and honors those who died in battle. Veterans Day is in November and honors all who have worn the uniform of our country.
Unlike a lot of holidays, we don’t move Veterans Day. It is always on the 11th day of the 11th month. Most public observances occur at 11 a.m., the time the armistice was signed ending World War I.
On this Veterans Day, my thoughts are on a young doctor in a field hospital in Germany who saved my daddy’s life.
My dad took a few Nazi bullets that came close to killing him. In addition, this young doctor discovered my dad had a rare form of anemia. They got the bullets out, but he nearly died from infection.
Without that smart doctor, my dad would have been one of those remembered on Memorial Day. I would have never been born and you would not be reading this column.
I’m grateful for the 24 years I had him. A folded flag, a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star are in a special case reminding me of him when I see it.
For those of you who tell me you like what I write, I hope you join me in a little tip of the hat to this unknown doctor who miraculously saved a good soldier’s life.
I’m also grateful to all who have served our country.
For those of you who, like my dad, fought in World War II, I thank you especially. We have said goodbye to many of your comrades and we miss those members of “The Greatest Generation.” If it were not for them, we wouldn’t be celebrating on Nov. 11. We might be marking April 20, the birthday of Adolf Hitler.
I’m grateful for every one of you who answered the call to Vietnam. There are many who didn’t return at all. We honor them and pray their fate will one day be known.
The one thing that is different between my dad’s wartime experience and today is the vast difference in medical care. Some things we see today are miraculous.
Because of some brave medics in 2006, Hall County native Channing Moss survived an unexploded rocket propelled grenade that cut through the core of his body. It took a lot of bravery, followed by a lot of care, but he is also one we honor in November and not in May.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, we did not fight conventional armies. Our opponents were terrorists who hate this country and all it stands for. Blowing up a Humvee full of soldiers was nothing to them.
As a result, many who fought in those recent battles have come home with many scars. Some have lost limbs and suffered other injuries that will be painful and lifelong reminders of their service.
To say “thank you” is not enough. We owe them a debt of gratitude and our support. This includes offering our direct help to them and their families.
Organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project need our help and I hope you will find a way to do so.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.