Welcome to Veterans Day. We at Veterans Expeditions sincerely hope you take a minute today to think about those who have served in our country to keep this country great and to defend against enemies foreign and domestic, for those men and women who have sacrificed so greatly for their country, for those who came back home in boxes, for those still not home, for those prisoners of war and missing in action, for those still fighting in uniform, and for those still fighting back home for their own survival. Think also of the veterans of other wars and other countries, for while we may have been on other sides throughout the years, the veteran experience, regardless of the language you speak continues to startle me with its similarity outside of time and place.
I beg of you to take real the challenge put forward to us by Abraham Lincoln to heart:
…let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds’ to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.
As a way to accept this challenge, please give. Today we are asking you to make a donation of $2, $5, $10, $20, or whatever it is you can give to help us complete the documentary on our Longs Peak 9/11/10 expedition and help us take the next step as an organization towards getting more and more veterans outside, working together, pushing themselves to take the next step. Everything helps.
Late on Tuesday night, we asked you to share your stories with us as to why you served and Chris Turner, a veteran and brother in arms brought into the Vet Ex team through the wonder of the internet made this statement about why he served:
To keep safe my family and all that I hold dear. For brotherhood unimaginable to those outside of it. To satisfy the burning in my veins… which only grew from the experience.
The comment resonated deeply within me, in large part, because that burning in my veins continued to grow when I took my uniform off for the last time. The brotherhood unimaginable? Certainly, and in the words of one of our first athletes and an old platoon mate of mine, Ian Smith, speaking about his experiences on our Longs Peak 9/11/10 climb:
Those men that I had shared so much with and lost so much when they died had become pale and distant in my memory. Climbing with this group brought those guys back to a vivid color and brought them back to the forefront of my memory. I found a piece of each of them in each of the members of the group. I felt as if I was walking and talking with them and laughing with them again, if only for a few days. I realized that perhaps this feeling, those brothers from the 101st, were the driving force behind my dedication to the training and my actions and attitudes during the climbs. It was the ethos, our warrior ethos, that drove me to perform well and that perhaps, if I could do a good job, I might come to a little more peace with my lost friends.
And what about the family and all those things that we hold dear? For that, I will look to Marine Dean Sanchez who, for me, captured perfectly our first trip up into the James Peak wilderness:
The trial that was taken on day three was through terrain that was truly amazing, not only did the hike present training value, but the beauty of the landscape was very powerful and had a inner effect on all of the veterans (almost as a reminder of what we fought to defend during our service to our country) the hike ended at 12,000 ft overlooking some of Colorado’s most beautiful landscapes.
At some point today, please reflect back on what it is these men and women have felt, have fought for, have put their name on a line and handed over a blank check to our nation and put that trust that our nation would spend the check wisely, and that the remainder of the balance, the veteran, would also be taken care of correctly when he or she came back home.
Help us to continue to challenge our Brothers and Sisters in Arms, to reawaken the deep fraternity and remind us that the fire in our veins, perhaps born in uniform, can be maintained, enhanced, and put to good work long after we last took our uniform off.