Respect Our Vets

Today is November 11. It is Veteran’s Day. A day in which our nation has set aside to “honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good” (via U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs).

I’d like to modify the wording of this purpose statement ever so slightly. This is a day in which we are reminded to respect our vets—for they have earned it. You see, honor is a gift but respect is earned.

Let me explain. It is one thing to show honor. I can honor the President, praying for him and his cabinet (see 1 Tim 2:1-4), but he may not necessarily have my respect. I honor him because of the position he holds. It’s a recognition rewarded. An acknowledgement accorded. Again, honor is a gift but respect is earned.

There are many in my life who have given their time and energy to our country, having protected my rights and freedom. Both my father and father-in-law served in the Vietnam War. (The image above is from the Vietnam Veteran’s War Memorial, “The Three Soldiers,” in Washington, D.C.) Other family and friends have given their time to our nation serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and beyond.

They have my respect for selflessly serving.


Since this is a blog generally about the books I have been reading, let me also ask: have you heard of Captain Scotty Smiley? His book Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army’s First Blind Active-Duty Officier, was written back in 2010, and serves as a powerful reminder that we have these kind of men walking among us.

hopeunseensmileyIn 2005, this Ranger and combat-diver qualified infantryman lost the use of both eyes when a suicide car bomber blew himself up thirty meters in front of his Stryker vehicle. The book takes you through his journey before, during, and after the injury.1

I had sworn to defend the Constitution. I signed up to give my life for my country. But my eyes? I never signed up to be blind… This moment meant that it wasn’t a dream. I could almost see the shrapnel flying at me, and I wanted to duck. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t get out of the way of this new life.

It’s no secret, and this is not a spoiler alert: Smiley has since surfed in Hawaii, skied in Vail, skydived, climbed Mount Rainier, completed a triathlon, and graduated from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business with his MBA.

Get a copy of this book. It’s an inspiring read with a strong endorsement from Franklin Graham. You won’t be able to put it down.


Who will you name today? Small, practical kindnesses count. They encourage and demonstrate value. Take a moment. Let them know. Respect our vets.

1 Smiley, Scotty; Crandall, Doug. Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army’s First Blind Active-Duty Officer (New York: Howard Books, 2010). 129, 133.