A star marks a veteran’s grave. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
I AWAKENED EARLY this morning writing this post in my head, before I fell back into a fitful sleep. Words flowed earlier. Now, though, I’ve forgotten the precise phrasing. But the essence of my thoughts remains. Thank you, veterans.
Thank you for all you sacrificed to serve, to protect our freedom and that of other nations and peoples. Thank you for placing country before self. Thank you for your bravery and fortitude, for your resilience and strength, for your ability to forge on in the most difficult of circumstances.
Thank you for setting aside your personal and family lives, for all those days and nights apart from those you love. That could not have been easy. Separation never is.
Thank you to your families for enduring this separation, for supporting you, for recognizing the importance of your work.
My father, Elvern Kletscher, on the left with two of his soldier buddies in Korea.
Those two words—thank you—don’t seem nearly enough. But I write them with sincerity and a depth of understanding founded in the experiences of my Korean War veteran father. I saw the toll war took on him, decades after he left Korea. He fought there in the rugged mountains of that nation, rifle in hand, firing at the enemy, hugging the earth of foxholes, taking out a sniper who killed too many of his brothers. War is hard.
And so thank you seems insufficient. But it is what I offer to you today. From my heart.
A veteran salutes during the Memorial Day Program at Faribault’s Central Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2018.
ADDITIONALLY, I want to share that the above photo I took of a veteran at the 2018 Memorial Day program at Central Park in Faribault, recently won third place in the People category of National Mutual Benefit’s 2019 Photo Contest. National Mutual is a fraternal life insurance society based in Madison, Wisconsin and through which my parents purchased a policy for me as a baby.
I am honored to have this image chosen for recognition and publication. It is just one more way for me to say, “Thank you, veterans.”
© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling