Today our nation get’s the opportunity and privilege to repay one of it’s greatest debts in the form of a simple Thank You. Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day for us as a nation to honor and thank those who sacrificed more than we’ll ever know in order for us to live in peace, freedom, and prosperity. And it is a day to thank those who are currently making those sacrifices as they serve and defend our great nation.
This is one National Holiday that I never forget. President’s day may slip by me. Columbus Day may come and go without a notice. But not today. Today is not only special because of the many men and women we get to honor. But today is even more special for the one man that I get to honor.
Lieutenant Colonel Bobby R. Burleson is a career military man. He served the majority of his adult working life in the United States Army. He served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He spent time stationed abroad in Germany as well. He served his country with pride, dignity, and honor for over 20 years. His sacrifices have been many – time away from his family, serving his country during wartime, and most recently his ongoing battles with cancer resulting from Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. When I was younger I asked Lt. Col. Burleson about some medals he had received and why they were just in a cigar box in the cedar chest in a spare bedroom. He told me he didn’t serve his country for medals. He did it because it was the right thing to do. That conversation and that moment forever shaped me. For my entire life, I have known Lt. Col. Burleson by another name – Papa. He’s my grandfather. He’s one of my very best friends. He is my hero. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the life lessons and legacy I’ve received from Papa. And today I’m so thankful that I have the PRIVILEGE to pay him the respect, thanks, and honor he deserves. Papa, I thank you for your willingness and sacrifice to serve. And today, our nation thanks you as well. And more than that, I thank you for living a life that taught me the importance of doing the right thing and serving others.
Johanna and I both have the honor of having many more family members serve in the armed forces – brothers, friends, cousins – the list goes on and on. My brother-in-law Jerry, my cousin Thomas, and my good friend Gibby currently serve. To all my family members and friends, to all those veterans and current military personnel that I don’t even know: Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for MY FREEDOM. I do not take it for granted. Today is your day. May we, as a nation, pay you the respect and thanks you so greatly deserve.