Service on and beyond the battlefield

For Veterans, service is for a lifetime

The kind of change most of us love to hear about is the uplifting, inspirational kind where someone or some group works to do something to improve the lives of others. Often we hear how much the doer benefits from the doing. But not all change is so happy and light.  Some change is downright costly, hard-fought and requires enormous sacrifice. No where is that more valid than in the collective change wrought by America’s veterans.

Veterans Memorial at Memorial Hall

President Ronald Reagan once said, “Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but marines don’t have that problem.” Neither do airmen nor guardsmen nor sailors nor soldiers. Veterans make a difference everyday through sacrifices that the ordinary citizen is not called on to make. America’s veterans preserve, safeguard and  guarantee our freedom as the vanguards of freedom all over the world. That’s why we honor them this week.

While it’s easy to throw around the word “veteran ” — veteran newsman, veteran politician, veteran senator — the veterans we honor annually are a special breed of men and women. They are people for whom service is far more than a job, an occupation or a calling, it is the way they live. In the highest and noblest sense, they fight for change in the world to guarantee our future, and they do it for a lifetime. Their impact goes beyond guns and bombs. They are ambassadors of us. They befriend children on foreign soils. They insure elections. They help rebuild broken infrastructures. They change the world. And they never stop doing so.

Soldiers leave their families. They live without luxury. They put their lives on hold. They struggle. They suffer injury. They return changed forever psychologically or physically, like Justin Constantine (’92). (Don’t miss his inspiring story. You’ll find a link on the JMU web page.) What they do is never easy. It is expensive. Sometimes it costs them their lives, like Brian “Bucky” Anderson who died in Afghanistan last summer while in service to us.

But most live on to continue impacting the lives of others like Be the Changers Lt. Col. Mike Dillon (’81) who uses his experience to mentor students and Emily Lewis Lee (’43) who served in WWII and has faithfully served — including service to JMU — ever since, and Maj. Patrick Creed (’93), whose active military service continues.  Veterans’ service never truly ends because service becomes a part of them. The bring back from the battlefield a commitment to change for which they have paid a personal price. They understand the cost of change and the cost of freedom. In this way, they personify the best of what we all strive to be — those who make a difference.

We salute them, and every Veterans Day we thank them for their willingness to change the world on our behalf.  So, today, if you want to do your part to change the world, find an American Veteran and say “thanks for changing my world.” And for those who you can no longer thank, remember.


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

One Response to Service on and beyond the battlefield

  1. Taylor says:

    As a student planning on joining the military upon graduation, I’m very excited to hear about the great work that some of our veteran alumnus are doing. It really inspires me to follow proudly in their footsteps and be my own change.


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