On Veterans Day a Vet says Thank You to all Vets

Army Veteran reflects on “humbling experiences”


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Veteran Hope Nelson (above left) shares her thoughts on Veterans Day. She is pictured here with her college mentor Aimee Valles.

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

So begins the oath of enlistment and the oath of commissioning for American service members. This oath carries on in the hearts and minds of all former and retired servicemembers. The oath represents an unbreakable vow and with it a bond connecting those of us who raised our right hands in allegiance.

As a newly minted Army Veteran myself, I have only recently begun my first civilian career at the Lexington VA Medical Center. Within a very short amount of time, I quickly realized just what I had gotten myself into. Not only am I surrounded by countless hats with “Vietnam Veteran” stitched on, but I have also had the privilege of seeing a unique gathering of World War II, Korean War, and other Veterans at a recent Kentucky Honor Flight send-off.

For those not aware, the Honor Flight provides some Veterans with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to our nation’s capital and visit war memorials dedicated to the wars in which they fought.

Capturing on camera the smiles of these Veterans about to embark on this incredible adventure was priceless and incredibly humbling for me. Through these initial encounters, I have felt first-hand the impact of the demographic I have now joined.

Alongside these gentlemen, the gravity of the title Veteran stirs up feelings of self-consciousness; I cannot help but compare my service to theirs. As we often hear, “All gave some and some gave all,” but I am starkly aware of just how small my own “some” feels: only four years of service with no deployments and all 5’2” of me is intact. I have all four limbs, eyesight, hearing, no shell shock, and a physically intact brain. Surely, I don’t design to be counted with them.

I count it an honor to stand among those who first raised their hands.

Despite my own feeling of inferiority next to those who came before me, I must remind myself of what I know is true: like my forbearers, I too did solemnly swear that I would support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that I would bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

Poster Veterans Day - WW1 - 100 Years

As I reflect on the service of those before me, I am reminded of the words of our nation’s first president: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

When all is said and done, I know I raised my right hand and made an oath. I count it an honor to stand among those who first raised their hands to the same oath. My experiences may not be the same, however, understanding who they are is a part of my continued service to Veterans with the VA.

From a fellow Vet, a heartfelt thank you to all Veterans on this Veterans Day for teaching me humility, sacrifice, and true fellowship.

Hope playing the violin

For more than 18 years, the violin has been an increasing source of enjoyment, stress relief, and creative challenge for Hope Nelson, who enjoys practicing classical music and playing along to favorite songs.

While in the Army she was stationed at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and Fort Irwin, Calif.


Hope Nelson was a captain with the US Army Military Police and is now a public affairs specialist at the Lexington VA Medical Center. Hope Nelson was a captain with the US Army Military Police and is now a public affairs specialist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. paul schultz    

    Too many Americans really do not understand the awful sacrifices our men and boys underwent during World War I. I call it “the forgotten war.” They are all dead now but we can all pause and thank God for those who served so bravely in absolutely horrible, muddy, and bloody conditions- in a land that was not even ours. Get a good book out of your library about WWI so you can better understand it. I did and learned so much more than I did in high school.

    1. Susan    

      Mr. Shultz … Thank You For Your Service.

      Who is he that suffers because of Honor for His Country?
      A True American that is ABLE to Go when called.

    2. Jim Sandoz    

      Please Ms. Nelson. “Despite my own feeling of inferiority next to those who came before me….”
      Don’t feel inferior. Join me in my humility of stepping in the footprints of those who came before.

  2. Armantine Williams    

    Thank you Captain Nelson! Your words beautifully expressed what every man or woman who puts on the UNIFORM feels for this great Nation. We were proud to serve to defend the freedom we have enjoyed for over 200 years. We cannot let it slip away. Today being Election Day we must vote for the livelihood of our nation to withstand evil and socialism.

    Respectively,
    COL A Williams, USAR (R)

  3. Anthony M Gonzales    

    Salute to all Veterans. Oxnard Ca Veterans Committee will host a Veterans Day Parade start time 09:30 and a Ceremony at 11:00 hours at the City Of Oxnard Plaza Park in the County Of Ventura. Operation Gratitude packages will be provided to all Veterans as supplies last. Visit Oxnard.org for additional information.

  4. shipdog7    

    No… your experiences were not like ours. But you are still brothers and sisters of mine. Some of us went voluntarily. Some were drafted and had one of two choices. We did what our country asked us to do. Vietnam is not a subject I ever talk about with family and friends. Or social engagements. It is a private matter to me. But I appreciate those who thank me for my service. I don’t need that. What I do need from them is that they would do the same for me someday. Protect me from the enemy. Protect our country. No matter how divided we think this country is today, and it is, the military armed forces is solid. It will never be divided. You can count on them to deliver. There may be separate facets of the services. But we are strong.
    Quote: “The prevailing opinion in Germany before our entry into war, was, that America was a money hunting nation, too engrossed in the hunt of the dollar to produce a strong military force. But since our troops have been in action the opinion has changed, and he says that though Germany is at present a defeated nation, he believes that they would be victors in a war with any nation in the world with the exemption of the United States.”

    —Karl Finkl of Bolingen

  5. Brenda Partee Taylor    

    Thankful daily for what you do will and have done to protect the freedoms we benefit from daily. Thank you for Your Generous Service

  6. jim watson    

    Thank you Captain nelson, and Captain Valles, nice article, love for all veterans, we all have a bond together, I was told in
    marine corps boot camp, upon graduation every marine is my brother. that is so true. and to me every veteran is my Brother
    and sister. past, present, future. A salute to all veterans, thank you. Semper Fi

    Jim R Watson
    USMC 1973-1977

    1st BN 1st Marines FMF West Pac

  7. onoriode unuajohwofia    

    Beatiful day!Thanks to all vet for their beautiful service.

  8. LARRY ROSSOW    

    Thank you Captain Nelson for your service to our country and dedication to all veterans. May God Bless you always!
    Larry Rossow
    Spc 4, US Army, 9th Division, Vietnam, 1966-1968

  9. R.W.Taylor    

    Amen to brothers and sisters protecting the constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic.
    Lt. R.W.Taylor USCGRR.

  10. Ray Collins    

    Thank you Captain nelson, and Captain Valles for your service of society. Amen to brothers and sisters protecting the constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic.

  11. Michael Hoag MS1 retired    

    I had the Pleasure to serve in 3 Branches of the Service 1972 thru 1975 Army,August 28th to June 22 1992 Active duty Navy,1994 thru 2004 Navy Reserves, I am retired and have enjoyed the Times I spent in the Adventures and the Many Countries I visited during them times you can’t visit today,Karachi,Pakistan,Israel twice,Hirgada,Egypt,Italy traveling today at some of the Exotic Ports were a real enjoyable at the time.I am Proud to be a Veteran Today and every day.

  12. Walt Bieda, Capt USAF(ret.)    

    Please volunteer info that you are a honorably discharged veteran when you meet a new acquaintance.

    You will probably notice a certain respect given to you and at the same time increase your own dignity and worth.

    Try it and see!

  13. Lisa-Marie Lander    

    Thank you to all Vets for all their hard work and service!

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