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B.J. DRYE COLUMN: Give respect to our veterans

Willie Nelson sings “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.”

I guess you could say my heroes have always been veterans.

It is not because I like war, fighting, shooting, stabbing, torture or plotting a strategy.

Well, I do love having a strategy.

No, I like veterans because they are something I could never be. I was dealt a life with multiple health issues.

It takes something special to serve one’s country, having the uncertainty of where you are going, what are you going to be faced with and whether you will make it back home.

I have had many veterans in my family, and the scars of service and war impacted how they lived their lives.

Grandpa McLester was severely burned while serving in Japan in World War II.

Though he didn’t let it get him down in his career as one of the best mechanics Stanly County has ever seen, the horrors he saw and the physical scars he carried did return near the end of his life.

I had two uncles who served, one in World War II and one in the Vietnam era. I also had a great-uncle who served during the Korean War. They all had some level of disabilities relating to service.

My greatest veteran role model is the lone survivor of the group. My dad was in the Air Force. Like Hank Snow, he’s “been everywhere.”

While he has struggled with lingering issues related to his service, the struggles are really beginning to show.

But he paid his part in the price for freedom then, so others who could not fight or ones who would not fight would be able to live in a great country.

Because that’s what real heroes do. They boldly go where others do not dare, all while not expecting anything in return. Vietnam-Era veterans were spit on, looked down upon and were advised to stay out of uniforms. These guys got no respect due to controversy and riots.

Today is a different world and these soldiers should expect something different.

When you see a man or woman with a cane or a walker or a scooter slowly maneuvering in a store or restaurant or in a parking lot, show some manners and do not try to run them over with your car or shopping cart. Some of these folks are our veterans and they deserve some respect.

B.J. Drye is editor of The Stanly News & Press. Contact him at 704-982-2123 or bj.drye@stanlynewspress.com.