Veterans Day: Honor & Remembrance

  Joe DeVaux “Everyone should volunteer and contribute something to their world…the world has changed and we have to change with it.”  When I asked Wesley Homes Resident, Joe DeVaux, about Veterans Day, and what it means to him, this was one of many sentiments he shared with me. Joe is a decorated Veteran of WWII and understands firsthand the price one pays when deployed in combat duty.  Joe describes his generation as one who still has strong feelings about God and country.  He is a loving husband to his wife Helen and a comrade to his fellow soldiers, those who died fighting for freedom, and those who made it home.  They are part of a brethren. When Joe thinks about Veterans Day, and what it means to him, he thinks of all those soldiers who were killed in duty, and never made it home.  For many years, Joe attended military reunions, and every year there would be a roll call of all those killed.  This is where Joe’s mind wanders when he thinks about the significance of this day. I am not a Veteran.  I am the sister and daughter of Veteran’s.  I have stood next to my parent’s, watching the airplane taking my brother to meet his military flight to Vietnam become a blur among the clouds.  I have experienced the feeling that I may never again see one that I love.  I have watched my father cry for my first time.  I am a family member, a Veteran of sorts.  My brother paid a dear price, but he made it home. My father, like Joe DeVaux, is a Veteran of the Battle of the Bulge.  Both of these amazing men have several Battle Stars, one from the Battle of Ardennes.  Joe speaks of his admiration, and deep gratitude for Wesley’s Wellness Nurses’ who tend to his feet on a regular basis as a result of the trench foot he suffered while digging foxholes across  Europe.  He laughs as he tells me he is an expert on the terrain of Central Europe. Both of these men talk about their horrific journey across the Atlantic Ocean and how they were afraid they might die from sea-sickness.  My father laughs and says at one point he was afraid he might not die.  My dad forcing down oranges, and Joe refusing to eat for four days following a breakfast of pork and beans…my father was 18 and Joe 19.  My father tells me that Veterans Day takes on more importance the older you get and that we owe the new Veterans a special debt.  “They are taking it on the chin” he tells me.  Moreover, he says " Used to be you would serve your country and come home, now soldiers are expected to tour 2, 3, or 4 times. It is a new kind of war, with new rules." In 2014, both Joe and my father will turn 90 years old.   I am so pleased to honor them this Veterans Day, and every day.   I thank all of you who have served your country, including all of you who have served in a different capacity, by patiently waiting for the person you love to come home; honoring them with prayer, letters, and care packages. Thank you Veterans, on November 11th it is your day, a day filled with honor and remembrance.

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