The Ripon Forum

Volume 53, No. 5

Veterans Day 2019

“Let Us Never Forget Those Who Willingly Step Forward to Shoulder the Duty.”

By on November 3, 2019


For some, it’s a three-day weekend — an excuse to take that trip, to go see family, or simply to enjoy a long weekend. For some, it’s a reminder to put out an American flag and thank the veteran that they see in the checkout line at the grocery story.

For others, it’s personal. It’s the memory of that jittery feeling of holding up your homemade sign, waiting for mom or dad, husband or wife, son or daughter, to come running towards you out of a sea of uniforms. It’s the deep breath you took when your feet touched United States’ soil and, for the first time in many months, you were not worrying about who was trying to destroy you. You felt safe. For me, it’s the faces and names of those I served with and all those that we served. It’s the Marine praying his rosary as we took his friend into the operating room. The Iraqi interpreters who served alongside us so faithfully. My fellow caregivers.  I think of them often – what are they all doing now? They are what Veterans Day means to me.

Even if you did not serve, or have a family member who served, Veterans Day is personal for each of us as citizens of the United States of America. Daily, we each benefit from the sacrifices of those who put their lives on the line to defend the freedom, peace, and prosperity we enjoy as a country. Think about what they have kept the United States from becoming or enduring: occupations, invasions, dictatorships, terror attacks. It’s almost mind boggling to consider how history could have been rewritten without their presence, standing in the gap. Yet in our Armed Forces, Americans don’t just wear the uniform for our nation, Americans also fight for each other. We fight for our fellow soldiers and also, in a very tangible way, for each and every citizen of the United States of America, so that you would be able to focus on what you can do, not always what you can’t do.

We each benefit from the sacrifices of those who put their lives on the line to defend the freedom, peace, and prosperity we enjoy as a country.

For so many mothers and fathers around the world, that is not their reality. The stability, liberty, and peace we enjoy daily is a unique gift, one that is fought for every day. As President Ronald Reagan once said, “If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.”

Major Brad Wenstrup in Iraq in 2005.

Let us never forget those who willingly step forward to shoulder the duty and privilege of paying that price. Today, amidst the clamor of our busy schedules, our 24-hour news cycle, and our heated politics, I’d like our country to take a collective pause. I’d like for each of us to stop, look up to the sun and sky above us, and count the many freedoms and rights we are able to exercise without thinking every single day. Remember to feel deep gratitude for the many gifts we enjoy, simply because of the privilege of being citizens of this great country and the sacrifices that fellow Americans have made on our behalf.

Today is personal. We each have the individual responsibility to steward well what we have been given. Today and every day, we have a responsibility to honor those who were willing to pay the price, as high as it may be.

Brad Wenstrup represents Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District. Brad has served in the U.S. Army Reserve since 1998, currently holding the rank of colonel. In 2005-06, he served a tour in Iraq as a combat surgeon, and was awarded a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for his service. In 2018, Colonel Wenstrup was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism.

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