Kemejuk's Korner

Veteran's Day 2005

I am proud to be a Veteran. I was thinking about that while watching the Blue Angels a couple of weeks ago, and I wondered when it was that I came to feel that way. Nobody I can remember at the time I joined the Navy in 1967 considered being a Veteran as something to be proud of. Maybe it was the stigma of the Viet Nam War in those days, or maybe it was the realization that our youthful freedom was about to be (at the very least) put on hold for four years. One thing for sure, no matter how everyone tried to put 'spin' on it, it was going to be a long time till we were back home and free again..

Of course there were lots of limits to our freedom, like all those boring days at sea, exhausting long hours of work, sleepless nights in cramped quarters, hot conditions down below when we were in the combat zone, 3 minute showers, long lines to stand in for everything, etc., etc. It seemed like such a long time between "2 and a wake-up" and "1 and a wake-up"; always waiting, always counting.

But when we were finally in port and on liberty, we found that there really was freedom to be had. (The word “liberty” itself is of course synonymous with “freedom”). We had the freedom to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences in foreign countries, while life's lessons were learned and buddies were made. On certain occasions, we actually did realize that there was a reason we wereover there. We were contributing to the freedom of our country and at the same time helping others to fight for freedom in theirs; “Ready Power for Peace” was the phrase of Com7thFleet. Who knows what our lives would be like today if we only kept our military inside our borders, as some nations did then, and still do?

It turns out that it wasn’t any single point of time, but a gradual realization over the years after my time in the Navy that I figured it out - our freedom was a result of all those efforts of millions of Veterans during our History. The founding fathers created it, and the Veterans maintained and still maintain it to this day.

Watching and absorbing the roar of the Navy’s best, the Blue Angels, along with flags waving and Ray Charles’ “America” blaring over the speakers, brought it all together for me. Thank God for all those that stepped up when needed and did their part to help keep all of us free. We had our turn, now a new generation has the watch. To all our Veterans then and now, we thank and salute you on this day. Happy Veteran’s Day, 2005.

Vets Poster 2005

Jack Kemejuk USS Oklahoma City 1968-74