Many of us will observe Veterans Day by flying the flag at our homes, spending time with our family and friends, catching up on chores, and watching patriotic movies on our TV(s). All of these things are good, but maybe we can challenge ourselves to do more.
You could go to a nearby cemetery and say a prayer over the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. You could visit a VA hospital and spend some time speaking with a veteran. Perhaps, you could volunteer to help prepare a meal at the VA, or maybe write a check to an organization like the Wounded Worrier Program (WWP).
In their literature, WWP reminds us that wounded worriers are more than the injured themselves. They are the husbands and wives, daughters and sons, fathers, mothers, and friends, — people who made great sacrifices for our country who now need assistance. People who deserve to get the help they need. We are reminded that our donations provide life-changing –often life-saving–programs and services free of charge to warriors, their families, and caregivers.
Never forget what Veterans Day is really about. For me, it is a time when I think about my brave 19-year-old cousin who was killed in Vietnam. Although I was just nine years old, I will never forget the Marines carrying his coffin. I will always remember running around the cemetery, with my cousins, collecting the shell-casing from the three-round rifle volley from the seven Marines. Although I did not quite understand, I will always remember the tremendous grief displayed by those in attendance that day.
I will always remember CPL. Vincent J. Wargo, 3D Marine Division. His family was kind enough to give me a copy of his diary recording his time in Vietnam. In his diary, Vinnie continuously wrote asking God to get him home safely. He kept begging God to give him the strength to do his job as a Marine when the moment arose. He begged God to take care of him and his fellow soldiers. At one point he says in his diary, “ God help us and save us and be at my side always. Said my rosary last night as I say each night.”
On April 29, 1968, Vinnie wrote, “It is a cloudy evening at 8:15. Operation on May 1. It’s really going to be rough. No one has been up there yet and definite Viet Cong. From what Kilo heard there will be blood on the LZ (Landing Zone). I keep having these thoughts about this operation. Oh God, help me and protect me, please let me get through this with your help…Please, God, I have so much to live for God. I know you will give me the strength to do my job and I know I will do my job, but I have something inside me that seems that you want me. Please God.”
Corporal Vincent J. Wargo was killed in action on September 15, 1968. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Medal. He was just 19 years old. He was the first graduate from Bishop McDevitt to be killed in Vietnam.
I will spend Veterans Day thinking about my cousin and all the men and women that served before and after him. I will think of them because they deserve remembering. I will write a check to the Wounded Worrier Program and call it a day, wondering if I should have done more.
God bless our soldiers, and I pray that they get home to their families safely.