Veterans Day is a day set aside to remember those who have served in the United States' military. Each veteran has a unique story.
The Eagle Public Library offers biographies from military personnel from all branches of service. Reading the personal histories is an insightful way to appreciate and honor those who served in the United States armed forces.
One book I read several years ago still resonates with me. "My Father, My Son" was written by Elmo Zumwalt Jr. and his son, Elmo Zumwalt III. Both father and son served in the Navy, the elder Zumwalt as an admiral and Chief of Naval Operations. The younger Zumwalt served with the ground forces in Vietnam.
Under Admiral Zumwalt's leadership, the use of the defoliant known as Agent Orange was approved. This order included the area where his own son was serving. The son later developed cancer and died at 42. His son, the admiral's grandson, was born with congenital birth defects. The book addresses the responsibilities, repercussions and personal costs of command decisions.
I was reminded of a young soldier's quotation I read when I was researching Agent Orange. Battling chronic health issues attributed to Agent Orange, he said, "I was killed in Vietnam. I just didn't know it."
After visiting Dwight Eisenhower's presidential library and boyhood home in Abilene, Kan., and his retirement home in Gettysburg, Pa., I read the first volume of Stephen Ambrose's biography, "Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect." I learned about the personal qualities that made Eisenhower a good leader and why he was chosen to be the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces.
Many new books covering the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan are available. "Band of Sisters" presents stories of 12 women serving in the military in Iraq. Their contributions, tribulations, and dedication is evident as they serve as pilots, turret gunners, and lance corporals.
"Horse Soldiers" is an account of an unusual group of Special Forces soldiers who fought the Taliban in Afghanistan on horses. This unique story is filled with Special Forces soldiers, CIA operatives, and Afghan warlords.
Honor a veteran this Veterans Day by reading his or her military story. It can be a life-changing experience.