Honoring Veterans, Past and Present

Nov 11

One of the lingering guilts that haunts me every time I see a soldier in uniform is that I never stood beside these brave men and women to serve our country. My absence wasn’t out of cowardice, just complacency. Growing up in a small town in Central Oregon, we were pretty isolated from the nearest military presence, an Air National Guard station 130 miles away over a mountain pass. As I was leaving high school, the Gulf War was already well over and I simply never gave joining the military much consideration. “They’ve got it covered,” I naively and selfishly thought to myself…

Looking back as an adult, I’m surprised I didn’t end up in the military. I came from a military family. My grandfather was the commander of the U.S. Marine regiment that was aboard the U.S.S Houston when it was sunk by Japanese destroyers on February 28, 1942. My father and uncle weren’t even three years old at the time they lost their father. Yet, my day grew up to join the U.S. Army and serve our country in jungles of war and the halls of The Pentagon before retiring from the military to become a local banker and entrepreneur. (His brother went on to serve as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Air Force Academy.)

My point? Like many (most) other Americans, my absence from the military does not absolve me from my responsibility to serve this country. I may no longer be eligible to serve my country by joining the U.S. Navy, but I can certainly stand in support and remembrance of those who have risked everything, those who have lost everything, and those who continue to put their lives ahead of my own – willing to sacrifice their lives so that ours may be better. It is this last thought that often humbles me to the point of tears. How could I ever live up to this unbelievable gift of freedom and security?

The answer, it seems is to remember. To remember that my grandfather chose to be on the ship to give his son, my father a chance at a better future. I have had a wonderful life that would not be possible if it were not for the personal sacrifice of my grandfather and the countless other selfless men and women who came before and have come after he gasped his last breath in the South Pacific. I never met my grandfather, but I will never forget the gift he gave to me and every other American. I have nothing to give in return but my sincere respect and thanks.

But what about our living Veterans? Those who made it back alive from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Kosovo, or most recently – Iraq and Afghanistan? Just like my grandfather, these men and women risked everything. Everything. For you, and for me…

Above is Feb 4 photo of air attack on Houston (L) about three weeks before being sunk by multiple torpedoes.

How could we ever honor Veterans’ commitment to this country? By actively supporting them on a daily basis. How many local businesses are owned by veterans in your town? How many businesses make it a point to hire veterans? How many veterans have you hired in your company? How many veteran-owned business have closed in your town because it was just a tiny bit cheaper/faster/easier to buy a product from a big-box store or online?

I may never know much about my father’s secretive military career, but my respect and admiration for his service to our country only grows when I take into account his contribution as a respected leader in the local business community. It wasn’t until I was out of college (and my dad had retired from banking and moved on to start new manufacturing company) that I began to realize just how much of an impact he made as a banker in a small community. He helped small businesses secure their first loans thirty years ago that helped build companies that have grown and supported two generations and families of workers. After risking his life in the military, he came home to see the potential in others and take chances on their success – risking his career on their failures. (I am rarely at a loss for words, but can’t even begin to articulate the profound pride I now have for the life’s work of this humble man…)

We are honored to have an enormous number of veterans as partners and members of RelyLocal across the country and we will continue to build, grow, and thrive our business in honor of their service to our great nation. I would urge every American –  consumer or business owner, to think about what you could possibly do to repay the debt that his owed to these great men and women.  Let’s not mince words, they were willing to die for you… It’s time to respect that.

Veteran’s Day is not a day for people in the military to pat themselves on the back. It is a day for the millions of civilians, like me who have never served their country in uniform, to honor their willingness to die so that we might enjoy a life filled with freedoms. Please join me in supporting of the millions of selfless men and women to whom we owe everything. Everything.

Steve Ramsey
co-Founder, RelyLocal

P.S. If you have a couple of extra dollars in your wallet and see a Veteran trying to pay for their own coffee or meal, do the right thing… Say thanks.

One comment

  1. You rock most don’t even think about why there is a holiday that stems from world war 1 or the great war or the war to end all wars, were opposite I can’t find any one in my clan that ever served. Thanks for thinking about us I feel humbeled to have served.

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