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Ventura County Perspective

Tribute to the American Soldier

November 12, 2000|MANUEL A. ENERIZ | Manuel A. Eneriz lives in Camarillo

In honor of this weekend's observance of Veterans Day, I offer to my comrades this tribute, "The American Soldier."

Born April 18, 1775, the Minuteman responded to Paul Revere's warning that "The British are coming!" You came of age at Valley Forge, under the expert hand of Von Steuben.

With unselfish devotion to your cause, you were able to defeat the mightiest army in the world. You made the great American experiment possible. I owe my freedom to you.

In the Civil War, America turned on itself--blue against gray, brother against brother. This time, you preserved the Union. And, as an American citizen, I owe my freedom to you, also.

The Great War. The war that was supposed to end them all. The doughboy in the trenches. The Meuse-Argonne. The leatherneck in the Belleau Wood.

Then came Dec. 7, 1941--the "day that will live in infamy." You fought all over the world, for almost four years. On the ground, in the air and on the sea, on a thousand battlefields.

You fought the biggest war in history, against the might of Germany and Japan. It was your hard-earned victory that propelled America into position of leader of the free world.

Five years later, you were called on again to resist aggression by an implacable, inhuman enemy, this time on the Korean Peninsula. The unprovoked attack across the Yalu River by Chinese Communist forces changed the face of war.

For three years, you fought here against a cruel enemy. Because of you, a nation was able to survive and become a viable and independent country. The Republic of Korea was able to repay its debt owed to you 15 years later by furnishing military assistance to another Asian nation resisting Communist aggression, the Republic of Vietnam.

Again, you were called on to assist an ally in a struggle for its very existence. This time, it was a place called Vietnam. In a long and vicious war, you fought. From the Mekong Delta to the DMZ to Hanoi, your courage made more than a match for your enemy. When can your glory fade? Never!

You would never boast of your own actions--your bravery and your unselfish devotion to duty. That's not your way. But your sacrifices must be told. For succeeding generations. How can each generation know the value of freedom if they don't know of its cost?

Included are the soldiers who fought in Panama and in Desert Storm. I commend you, too, for a job well done.

I have always revered your story, comrades, I own you so much. The only way I can repay you is by keeping your memory alive in my heart and by saying to others, "Have you heard the story of. . . ?"

*

You, the men and women who stand head and shoulders above the common man. You have fulfilled your sacred obligation to the republic so magnificently for more than 200 years.

You, the unforgettable, the American soldier who freed me after being detained as a POW for three years and six months in the Philippines and Japan.

Let's not forget the Gold Star mothers who lost their loved ones, and to the Blue Star mothers and their families who share their loved ones for our nation's cause.

To the men and women aboard the Navy destroyer Cole, I send my prayers, condolence and sympathy.

You, the American soldier. I salute you, thank you and God bless.

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