Celebrating Veteran’s Day

As I celebrate Veteran’s Day, I find myself wondering what it means for other people.


Photo by the National Geographic


My family has a long line of patriots.  Some of my fondest memories involve spending time with both of my grandfathers.  It wasn’t until death’s hand waited patiently over my grandfather’s bare head that he felt he could share stories from WWII.

I was forever changed.


Veteran’s Day is, for me, a day to remember, a day to respect, and a day to renew my own sworn duties to protect and uphold.  I have a few quotes that I would like to leave.  Each of these mean something specific to me.


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy


“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” -Jose Narosky


“Better than honor and glory, and History’s iron pen, was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow men.” – Richard Watson Gilder



And finally, a poem this is said to have been composed by Tecumseh, a great Shawnee and tribal confederacy leader.  His message was a good one.


So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.



What does Veteran’s Day mean to you?  Do you have any special memories, or thoughts, or poems that strike a chord on this day?


15 comments on “Celebrating Veteran’s Day

  1. Hi Z. I had a post that I considered putting out today. It was an email sent to me from another person. The email is filled with tons of heinous grammatical errors. Like ridiculous. And I’m thinking: oh I’m so posting this! And then, the guy says he’s a Veteran.

    And I can’t do it.

    Because it is suddenly disrespectful. Maybe he isn’t an idiot. Maybe he actually has a brain injury suffered while on tour.

    And then I hate myself because I realize that if it weren’t for folks like him, I couldn’t have all my freedoms. I couldn’t blog freely and maybe I’d have to be afraid of folks trying to hurt me for my beliefs.

    I had an uncle Paulie. Family members say he was never the same after Vietnam. I’m thinking next year. Next year I’ll write about Paulie. Paul. With the respect that he deserves.

    I’m really glad I didn’t post that piece today. Really glad.

    • zkullis says:

      Hi Renée,

      It’s funny how a little information/insight can change where we go with things. I would have done something similar if I were in your shoes.

      Don’t hate yourself, you didn’t know. The horrors of war are not restricted to physical injuries.

      I can’t wait to read what you write about Paul!

  2. Beautiful, thoughtful post, Zach.

    I should have thought to post one myself. So far, my own life and family are unmarked by loss or injury of a family member. To all those brave men and women and their families — my eternal gratitude.

    My patriotic tree stands year ’round in my home as a constant reminder.

    The flag given to my MIL years ago when my husband’s father’s remains were shipped back from Iwo Jima will always hold a special place on our shelves.

    To those of you on the front line — know there are many who admire your brave hearts and patriotic souls.

    You never fail to share gems of wisdom, Zack.

  3. zkullis says:

    Thanks Gloria! I aim to ping! 😉

    • Here it is, a year later. I have no statistics on how many lives have been lost or altered since this post first went up. I imagine the toll is staggering.

      My sentiments remain the same. My heartfelt thanks to those of you who put your lives at risk.


  4. I’ve never thought about particular sayings when it comes to Veteran’s Day (though I love the one about there being no unwounded soldiers in a war). But It’s nice to see so many bloggers paying tribute to a group of people who deserve it more than just about anyone else. 🙂

  5. As a child raised in a military family, it’s made a huge difference in how I see the world. My dad met and married my mom in the Philippines and I was born there (so I’m sure you can imagine how hard I’m taking all the tragedy going on in that area right now). I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to travel with my dad. We were stationed all over the world. It’s been a running joke that of the 4 children he had with my mom, only the youngest and oldest (me) were born in the same country.

    You learn very quickly to respect other cultures and to think before you react to something simply because it isn’t what YOU’RE used to. You also learn to make friends quickly and that goodbyes, while hard aren’t permanent as long as you carry warm memories in your heart.

    Somehow, even now, my life intersects quite frequently with folks in the military…as if we gravitate to one another. I’m the person who respects and appreciates what they do and the personal sacrifices that go with it. They’re the ones who appreciate the empathy and kindness along with not having to “glam up” their lives or stories…and they don’t have to explain many of the basics.

    I put my tributes to them and their families on my blog. Wrote a short story last year, a poem this year…and another short story on Memorial day (talking about the many generations of servicemen/women) and the losses that often come, too.

    I loved your dedication and the poem. So very appropriate. 🙂

    • zkullis says:

      Kitt, thank you so much for the comment. I love veterans, and I also love their families. At the Relay for Life this year I bumped into a Military grandma who was walking with her grandaughter to raise money. The cute little girl was dressed in a princess outfit and asked me if I would donate.

      I didn’t have any cash on me, but when I opened my wallet I saw my challenge coin sitting there. I handed it to the little girl and apologized for not having any money, and hoped that the coin would work.

      The grandmother immediately became emotional. We talked for quite a while about service and sacrifice. It’s amazing that something so simple can represent so much and mean so much to others. I need to check out your tributes. Thanks Kitt.

      • You’re so right. My grandpa on my stepdad’s side was a banker most of his life, but for a time, back in WWII he joined the military and “did his part”. Grandma like to tell us about how she was a war bride, but Grandpa didn’t say too much except to say that someone sure was looking out for him because he should have died twice.

        Imagine my surprise when I learned upon his passing that the one thing that he wanted was a flag ceremony at his funeral. Several nice men came down from a military base a state away to make his wish a reality. We had the pleasure of surprising the military men by having live musicians there for his funeral. Having been raised in a musical household, we’ve always enjoyed the gift of live music. We had a close friend there to play “Taps” on his trumpet, which brought a tear to their eyes as they folded that flag and handed it with “thanks from a grateful nation” to my stepdad. Not a dry eye in the house. We found out later that they’d had a boom box with the music as that’s usually what they have to settle for.

      • zkullis says:

        Love it! Taps on a trumpet is fantastic, and I think a close second is bagpipes. Thanks again for sharing Kitt!

      • Ooh! Bagpipes. Yeah. That would be a close second… (Of course the red blooded female in me is also hoping for a kilt on the man playing them.) 😀

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