I first met Brandon when I transferred to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment based out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. Brandon is the epitome of an American warrior.

He lost his leg in an IED blast during an Iraq deployment. He spent years recovering from his injury and decided to continue serving his country. He could have retired early and returned to his hometown to live in relative peace. Instead, out of the love for his country and his fellow Soldiers, he stayed to fight.

There are thousands of Brandons in our country. All of them have suffered and continued to fight. They are the warriors on the battlefield who give their peers no excuse to quit. They’re out there, missing limbs, burned from head-to-toe, fighting in wars they didn’t start for a citizenry who may never understand. These men and women, like Brandon, are the anchors of the freedoms we enjoy every day.

Do you despise the leader of your city, state, or country? You have the freedom to say so without fear of retaliation by the same.

Can you profess your faith in a deity, or no deity, without being thrown in prison?

The truth of our nation, even with the blemishes of our history, lies in the Veterans who fought, who died, and who bear the costs of the freedoms we enjoy every day. These men and women, past and present, are the defense of the Constitution that recognizes the freedoms we all have.

One this day, Veterans Day, we must recognize that we are a great country, not because of our natural resources, our technological innovation, or our culture. All of those are important, yes. But, we are great because of the Warriors who stand and fight against any threat to your freedoms, and mine.

This day is important to me because of my time spent with Brandon. It’s important to me for the time I spent with men who didn’t survive our deployments. This day is personal for me because I come from a long line of Warriors, with many in my family still serving around the world.

Today is about our nation’s Veterans. I love them all and I miss the ones who are gone. Regardless of the many issues and disagreements we have as Americans today, we should all support those who defend our freedoms.

To my Veteran brothers and sisters, Thank You for your sacrifice for me and my family.

“A Bit of War History: The Veteran” by Thomas Waterman Wood is marked under CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/cc0/1.0/