The Old Guard Riders display American flags during a Veterans Day celebration hosted by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs at the Oregon WWII Memorial in downtown Salem on Nov. 11, 2019. Photo: Anna Reed
Nov. 15, 2019 – STATESMAN JOURNAL
Oped by Oregon State Representative Major Paul L. Evans USAF (Ret)
This past weekend America celebrated Veterans Day. It is set-aside for reflection upon the impacts of service to our nation, state, and community: an opportunity for us all to recognize the sacrifice of our military families.
We live in a time when young men and women born since the Terrorist Attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now deploying to distant lands to continue the fight against our enemies. A generation of warriors has passed since we began this conflict: it is surreal to reflect upon the realities of these young patriots traveling the same roadways, staging at the same bases, and perhaps, engaging some of the very same opponents that we did in our youth.
Like most who served in uniform, Veterans Day is a cacophony of complex, often contradictory feelings and thoughts. It stirs memories of distant shores, of defining choices, and of faces now sadly fading from view.
This year was especially difficult because it forced me to reflect upon the crisis at hand; of the realities our Republic must face – of the dangers of institutional corruption, greed, and selfishness.
For too long We the People have watched our leaders profit from sowing seeds of division; we have allowed ourselves to embrace a lie: that Americans have less in common than we have apart. Far too many Americans have forgotten the meaning of civic duty; too few are familiar with the awesome responsibilities of rights.
America needs to relearn the value of community, of togetherness: how to work together in common cause for the mutual benefit of all involved. And veterans can – veterans must – play a role in this renewal of our civic spirit.
We who served in uniform took an oath to defend our Republic; we can honor the promises made or ignore them – ignore our duty – and accept the decline of our America. Our duty to country did not end when we retired the uniform.
Over the course of 20 years of military service in peacetime and wartime, I saw first-hand how veterans of different faiths, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds can – and did – overcome obstacles to put the mission and team ahead of everything else. Our country needs to see this kind of resolve again.
Whatever your party, perspective, or political philosophy – find a need in your community and fill it. Demonstrate through your actions how to put the mission first. I believe now is the time for all former soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to rally to the aid of our country, once again.
Let us reclaim the meaning of Veterans Day. Let us muster again to reawaken the spark of our civic duty.
Let us demonstrate the true meaning of service throughout our community – mutual respect, tolerance, and unwavering support for an America worthy of its values.
Let us show the world that America – our America – remains the best, last hope for freedom, justice, liberty, and self-rule.
Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, represents Legislative District 20 which covers Monmouth, Independence and parts of South and West Salem. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org