Ben Stein Thanks Veterans

Comedian Ben Stein speaks at the Republican National Convention in the First Union Center in Philadelphia Monday, July 31, 2000. AP

Veterans' Day is a day of reflection for all Americans, including Sunday Morning contributor Ben Stein:

The other night, I walked around my Washington apartment, near George Washington University, past all the smiling, joshing, flirting students guzzling down Starbucks coffee.

On the way back, men and women and kids strode happily down K Street, shouting out "Bueller..." "Bueller..." to me, and then I was back in my apartment looking out at the Potomac River and the lights of Virginia.

Then a hot shower, then time to sleep.

Actually, no, first I got on my knees and prayed a prayer of thanks.

Because while we're all laughing and smiling here in the capital and in the homeland, in Afghanistan, men and women are eating chow in a truck or a Humvee wondering if they're about to get blown up. They're far from home.

In Iraq, men and women in the uniform are on patrol in terrifying streets in Samarra and Kirkuk and Baghdad, wondering if they're going home in a body bag, or going home at all.

At Walter Reed Medical Center, a place I visit often, men and women in the amputee ward are learning how to live without their arms and legs. They're bearing up, making plans for their future, and their families and girlfriends and boyfriends are at their sides.

At Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where the dead from Iraq and Afghanistan sleep, widows are putting flowers and stones on their husbands' markers, and parents are watching their sons' gravestones with tears in their eyes. Their stories could wring tears from cement.

And in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fighting goes on and our soldiers fight like tigers.

Freedom is not free. The millions who fought for us bequeathed it to us. They bought it with their blood and their lives and their limbs. They're still doing it. We're fools if we don't know it.

John F. Kennedy said it well. He said we all ask God to go to work to keep America going. "...here on earth, God's work must surely be our own."

The men and women fighting so far from home are doing it, and spending a good chunk of the day praying for them and thanking God for them is just common decency.

Then we can go back to laughing and loving. They've got our backs.
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