By Dean Urdahl
District 18B, State Representative
After the collapse of communism in 1989, we were blessed with an extended period of relative peace. With no clear-cut enemies, it seemed we might be done fighting for our freedom. That all changed in one day.
One day reminded us of that old saying – “freedom is not free.” Some pay a greater cost than others, but everyone who volunteers their life for freedom deserves Veteran’s Day.
November 11 will mark 87 years since the signing of the treaty that ended World War I. It was supposed to be the end of all wars. But, by the time Veteran’s Day was officially established in 1938, another world war was brewing. The peaceful days that seemed so close in 1918 were again thrown indefinitely into the future.
Veteran’s Day is just that – one day. One day for us to honor the American veterans who fought decades ago and show respect for the new class of veterans who earned our admiration with their fight for freedom. For one day, we can fly a flag, light a candle or say a prayer in their honor.
For 28 soldiers from the 682nd Engineer Battalion, A Company, A based in Litchfield, this Veteran’s Day is well earned. They returned earlier this year after a tour of duty that saw them find and eliminate roadside bombs. Think about how many people are alive to celebrate their first Veteran’s Day because of A Company’s bravery.
One day, there may not be a need to find and destroy roadside bombs. One day may come when the sacrifices of war are no longer needed.
Until then, Veteran’s Day is the one day we owe to our veterans to show them how much we truly appreciate their sacrifice. If you know a veteran, tell him or her how much you appreciate their bravery. If your Veteran’s Day will be spent with the memories of someone lost in war, I hope this poem titled “Eulogy for a Veteran” can bring you comfort. It was written many years ago by an anonymous poet:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I did not die.