by Phil Phillips - Thursday, November 10, 2022
As I write this on Nov. 8, the day of our national midterm elections, I can’t help but think of another important date coming up this week: Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11. I have uncles who are veterans and I have had the pleasure of spending time in the field hunting with veterans, thanks in part to groups like Freedom Hunters that honor those who protect our freedoms, welcome them home and support getting them back into the field. Without these brave men and women, we almost certainly would not have the freedom to go out today and vote.
As we outdoorsmen and women keep our veterans in our thoughts and prayers this holiday weekend, I recommend that everyone watch this short video of veteran Jerry Green reading his poem “Veteran’s Day.” Green wrote it in the 1970s upon his return from the Vietnam War as he and fellow soldiers faced a stigma they didn’t understand or anticipate. His wish was to recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice and remind us that our veterans worked to protect us every day, yet we give them recognition only one day a year.
“Veterans Day” by Jerry Green
This poem is dedicated to the veteran,
Who served in the foreign wars.
Especially for the ones who gave their lives,
To keep the enemy from our shores.
We should all thank God for the veteran,
Without him where would this country be?
Would we be America,
Or even yet, would we be free?
Now a veteran is not an immortal man,
But he is of a special breed.
He’s a man of faith and loyalty,
Ready to serve his country’s need.
He’s just a man like you and I,
A man of strength, courage with fear.
A man who may die to save us all,
But a man remembered, only once a year.
So remember the veteran every day,
Especially the ones who have died.
In a battle to save us all,
He may have lost, but he tried.
So to all the veterans in this world,
Your God and country cares.
And to the ones who can’t read these words,
Let this day be theirs.
In case you’re wondering why Veteran’s Day is celebrated on Nov. 11, it’s because it originally was called Armistice Day, paying tribute to the end of World War 1 on Nov. 11, 1918—the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed that the country had been engaged in two more wars since 1918 and renamed it Veteran’s Day to honor all who served in America’s armed forces.
Speaking as an NRA member, I’d like to point out one other thing that may be a given: Veterans make up a large percentage of gun owners, hunters, shooters and NRA members. So, as we honor those who fought and fight for freedom, we recognize that veterans are part of the reason “America’s rifle” is the AR-15—the semi-automatic civilian version of the M16 military rifle. The NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website (NRAHLF.org), in fact, has tracked how many hunters say the names of their favorite rifles all start with “AR.” This brings to mind another NRAHLF.org post noting how hunting can be considered a matter of national security based on the crossover in skill sets that hunters and veterans share. Veterans who grew up as hunters already had a head start on firearm knowledge, marksmanship and woodsmanship skills, and perseverance—all sharpened over long periods of repetition and training. While hunting is not training for military service, it does hone skills critical for successful execution of military missions.
Circling back to honoring our veterans, if you have the chance to volunteer alongside a group like Freedom Hunters like I did, or any of the other hunter-backed groups that help veterans get into the field, I can honestly say it can be life-changing for all involved. What I appreciate about Freedom Hunters is the fact the 501(c) military outreach organization is specifically dedicated to honoring our military. It reflects the outdoor community’s appreciation of those who serve by taking select active duty and wounded combat veterans, families of fallen heroes and children of the deployed on outdoor adventures.
In carrying on America’s hunting, fishing and shooting sports traditions, Freedom Hunters’ home page says it all: “Field to Field, Honoring Our Nation’s Finest.” Translation: We welcome them home, honor the wounded and, last but never least, remember the fallen.
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