Veterans in-kind

Sometimes I wish I were a soldier. Especially on days like tomorrow, Veterans Day, I think how I would love to be part of such a grand tradition. I am always moved by stories of sacrifice, courage and selflessness that are so prevalent when one hears about World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam or the Iraqi wars.

Recently, I read Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book Unbroken, about the life of Olympian and WWII veteran Louis Zamperini. The story is breathtaking, exciting and inspiring. It is a book about overcoming enormous obstacles and ultimately about making the world a better place. Zamperini’s life is one example of millions of veterans who have served on our behalf.

That’s what soldiers do. They stand in for us. They hold at bay the darker parts of the world and in doing so, they teach us all about sacrifice and about spending the minutes, hours and days of our lives for a greater purpose.

On the Be the Change website, you can read about some of JMU’s Veterans like Justin Constantine (’92), Maj. Gen. Ray Mason (’78), Maj. Patrick Creed (’93), Lt. Col. Mike Dillon (’81), Lesley Kipling (’99), 1st Lt. Tyler Moyer (’08) and Capt. Jeff Soule (’02). They represent hundreds of Madison people who have served us this way.

We owe them our freedom. We also owe them a debt for demonstrating why lives lived for the sole purpose of one’s own pleasures and interests seem hollow and worthless by comparison.

People who inspire us, like veterans, are almost always those who serve others. One may be impressed by accomplishments but inspiration comes most often from those who serve.  On JMU’s website you can read about one of those, Dr. Ken Rutherford. His work to rid the world of landmines is changing lives. Like our Veterans, his work of service is inspiring.

And while parades and tributes are nice to honor those who serve us, there’s a better way — one that connects us with them. While we don’t all serve in our Armed Forces, we all can be Veterans in-kind by emulating the service they perform: They serve to make the future brighter.

And so should we all.

Read more about Dr. Ken Rutherford at

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....

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