Remembering the other patriots at FMU

Juan Cruz, Guest Writer

If you were asked to take a moment and count to 137, would you?  If you were asked to take 137 steps to the right and extend a handshake to someone you are meeting for the first time, could you?  If you were to pass 137 unique people walking up the side walk and say the words, “Thank you”, should you?  You would have to have a pretty good reason to do something so untypical on what seems to be just another day.

But, Veterans Day is not just another day.  And, every student, faculty, and staff member has137 honorable, fantastic reasons to do just that.  There are a minimum 137 veteran service members and their family members enrolled at FMU this semester; 59.3% more than in 2008. The U.S. Department of Education reports “some 660,000 undergraduates were veterans”.  There is a good chance you will sit by, stand in front of, or pass by a student-veteran on any given day at FMU.

There are also veterans among FMU’s faculty and staff (just ask them).  Additional student veterans are currently on active or reserve duty while attending classes.  Others have taken a break in their education because they are currently deployed in ongoing defense and humanitarian missions worldwide.  The Army ROTC Cadetsin uniform you watch training on campus may soon becomemilitary leaders continuing a tradition of excellence.

Among the graduated alumni and their families are veterans past and present who have served on Active Duty, Reserve, Inactive Reserve, National Guard, or Retired in all branches of service.  Our university’s beloved namesake, General Francis Marion, is one of our nation’s most prestigious veterans.  Every family member and neighbor who has supported a servicemember in defense of our nation has also honorably served our nation.  They all deserve our deepest gratitude, for freedom is not free!

As we approachVeterans Day, you are not required to find 137 persons on campus and shake their hand to express your gratitude.  But, you canplace a “yellow ribbon” on your shirt.  You could place a yellow bow in your window or car. Carry an American Flag.  Call, text, Facebook, Tweet, or mail a letter, or just talk to a veteran and/or their family, and simply say, “Thanks for everything you have done.  I am honored to know you.”  They are all truly “Patriots” among us.