I am not and have never been in my country's military. While my uncle served as a PBY pilot in WW2, he didn't like to talk about it. My mother's second husband (hard to call someone a "stepfather" when you are in your 40's), and he not only served in the Pacific but also as a brigadier general in the Army Reserves. My "son-in-law"s brother recently mustered out of the Marines after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. My good friend Chris served in the Air Force for some time. I had many friends in college who were part of the ROTC program.
Beyond that, I have little contact with those in the military. My uncle and "stepfather" are both gone, but from old age and not from combat.
That is why it is so important for me, and those like me who are not part of the minuscule percentage of the population in the US that does serve in the armed forces, to thank those who have gone before and sacrificed their lives for their country and for the citizens of this country. I do not always agree with the choices the leaders of my country make, and in some cases I consider them close to criminal, but there is no question that those who serve do so at the risk of their lives, from training accidents to hot combat zones and they do so because they serve, not because they always agree with me or their leadership. They do it because they understand that the idea of the United States of America is bigger than me, bigger than our leaders, bigger than themselves.
Thank you. Your sacrifices, whether it be in disruption to your lives, your health, your psyche, or your life itself, does not go unnoticed and unappreciated. May you remember that throughout the year, not just on this one day.