We Can Learn a Lot About Working Together From Veterans

Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the things we have, and focus on what we think we want. Other times, especially in the days and weeks leading up to an election, it’s easier to focus on what makes us different, rather than what unites us.

America was not designed to be a nation made up of “us” versus “them” or “me” versus “you.” It’s a nation of “we.” Despite any differences and disagreements we may have, the United States is stronger and better when we work together.

Veterans Day is one of those times when it is good to sit back and reflect on the great gifts our nation has been blessed with, and acknowledge that those blessings have been paid for through the courage, cooperation, and sacrifices of our service men and women.

Our nation would not be what it is without our veterans, who willingly put aside their own agendas and opinions in order to serve as a cohesive unit. Some may have served next to men or women they didn’t agree with or didn’t like. The military is no place for creative differences or personality conflicts. When a job needs to get done, it gets done.

West Virginia, and America as a whole, could learn some things from the men and women of our Armed Forces. My father, a World War II veteran, instilled in me the firm belief that the freedoms we savor are not free. They are paid for dearly through blood and battle and many tears shed. And the best way to honor those sacrifices is to shield our freedoms from those who may try to erode them.

Freedom always must be defended and fortified, lest it slip away.

West Virginia has a proud history of sending its sons and daughters to serve our country in the military. We continue that by honoring those veterans when they return home, as well. Our state is home to approximately 173,000 veterans, 128,000 of whom served during a time of war.

West Virginia still is home to nearly 11,000 World War II veterans, approximately 15,000 Korean War veterans and 60,000 Vietnam War veterans. In addition, more than 46,000 West Virginians have served during the Gulf Wars and the ongoing War on Terror. Each of them has a story to tell. They sacrificed much for their love of America. They traveled to distant places and served our nation because it was the right thing to do.

Many veterans will never brag about what they did; some may not speak about it at all. The benefits they receive from their service will never equal the sacrifices they made. But veterans can know that they stood tall when others may have been scared; they fought hard when others wanted to run; and they served with no expectation of receiving anything more than the concept they were fighting for: freedom.

As we reflect on Veterans Day this year, I hope we will each take a moment to reflect on what freedom means. I hope we can take a day off from focusing on our differences to come together as a united nation and be thankful for what we have, turn a blind eye to what we don’t have, and be a nation of “we.”

Veterans deserve that peace.


Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.

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