Our Call of Duty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Twenty million people living in America today have served our country in the armed services. Even teenagers are called upon by our nation to serve. And somehow, we, the young generations, manage to overlook these veterans. The average teenager not only does not understand the sacrifices made for us, but puts no effort into understanding. We, the teenagers of America, should serve our own Call of Duty, our duty to recognize and show gratitude to our veterans.

I have observed young people's ignorance toward veterans time and time again. This past Veterans Day, my family attended a ceremony in my town, as we do every year. It was the best turnout in years, about 200 people. That leaves the other 31,800 residents who did not attend, as they never do. But what really struck me was the lack of teens. Other than the Cumberland High School band, which plays the national anthem, “God Bless America,” only one or two teenagers were there. Two in the entire town thought it was important enough to attend.

When I went to Washington, D.C., with my eighth-grade class, one of the first things we did was visit the Vietnam Memorial. Instinctively, I removed my baseball cap as I walked by the first name. After a moment, I realized I was the only one who did. It didn't occur to my classmates to remove their hats, and it seem like many of them didn't understand the significance of the memorial.

Too many teens take for granted what we have been given, and remain unaware and ungrateful for veterans' contributions. Why should we? The answer can be described in two words: gift and sacrifice.

Veterans have given us the gift of freedom over and over. They defend us from our enemies and protect the concepts and ideas Americans have held sacred for more than 200 years, that “all men are created equal” and that we “have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We are united as a whole, we are free of oppression, and we are free of fear because of our veterans.

What makes this gift even more valuable and sacred is the enormous price Americans have paid for it. Millions of Americans have been directly affected by the sacrifices of veterans or soldiers in active duty. They have given up time with loved ones and laid down their lives for the greater good. These heroes have answered the call of duty and many have made the ultimate sacrifice.

For those willing to sacrifice so much for us, the least we can do is honor and acknowledge them with the respect they deserve. If not for our veterans, what language would we be speaking, what fears would we live in, and what virtues would we have?

What can you do to acknowledge the veterans? This Veterans Day, go to the local ceremony or stop by the veterans' memorial in your town. Fly the American flag, pray for them, and be sure to say thank you the next time you see a veteran.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

grandad said...
Nov. 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm
Wounderful article
 
Robert C. replied...
Mar. 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm
"God Bless America" is not our national anthem. The article is well written, but the national anthem was a bringer of hope to the veterans, such as my father, and his father before him. "The Star Spangled Banner" is our national anthem :)
 
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