Veterans Day is my day off. I usually take off Veterans Day to go hunting. I feel I have worked for it and I deserve it. For many years, being a Vietnam-era veteran was thankless, or worse.

When I got out of the service in 1972, the Vietnam “conflict” was still going on. People did not call it a war though people on both sides were dying. It was unpopular, mostly because of the way it was being fought and everyone involved was blamed for the war, from the president to the private doing the dirty work.

I entered college and found out how unpopular the war was. I had a military-style haircut because I had grown accustomed to it after four years. I had a pair of military-issue shoes I wore because they were comfortable. The first day of class, I stuck out as being former military and several people pointed out that I was a war monger and baby killer.

There was no explaining to narrow-minded people that I had not killed any babies and the war was not my idea in the first place. From that day forward, I did my best to look less military and not stand out.

Approximately 40 years later, my wife and I were in a local bar/restaurant talking with a group of mostly younger couples. One man asked me if I had been in the military.

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After a moment’s hesitation, I said, “yes.” He responded with, “Thank you for your service,” and went on to ask me something about my time in.

I was choked up to the point I could not respond for several minutes. It was the first time since my discharge, someone seemed to appreciate the fact I had served our country.

The last few years, thankfully, people’s attitude about those serving in the military has changed. If people do not agree with the elected officials and their military involvement in foreign countries, most people no longer blame the soldiers doing the actual work.

It is nice to see stores, restaurants, and individuals showing appreciation for veterans. Most wars have been fought for a just cause; to ensure freedom for our country and that of our allies around the world. We need the professional soldiers to fill these roles. Our country and way of life depends on them.

We can not treat people as those in the poem, "Tommy, Get Your Gun" by Rudyard Kipling, or like so many were treated during and after the Vietnam War. People brave enough to fight for our freedom should be honored by those of us at home enjoying those freedoms.

From the Greatest Generation that fought World War II, the forgotten war in Korea, the unpopular war in Vietnam, large and small conflicts before and since, I want to thank the brave men and women willing to put their lives on the line for our country. Thank you, veterans.

I will now enjoy those freedoms and rights by taking off a day of work and go hunting. Happy Veterans Day.