A Veterans Day message written by Charlie Glegg, president of the Student Veterans Association at St. Petersburg College’s St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.
It’s raining…… no, it’s more like a steady drizzle. The cold twilight has faded into a full dark void. Bad weather to jump from an airplane, even if that jump is not far from the ground. Twinkling not far in the distance are flashes; some are silver, some are gold and some are white hot. This is not fire from an unseen enemy; this is light playing off the instruments of a marching band and the flashes of cameras. The jump made today is off the ramp of a C 141 at 2-feet AGL (above ground level) on to Green Ramp, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., mid-November 1983. A little island nation called Grenada has its once freedom again. The first unit from the 82nd Airborne division to go to combat since Vietnam is also the first unit to return.
Falling in by platoon, the men of Alpha Company prepare to march back with swagger and pride in true paratrooper fashion. One lowly PFC looks over to see his platoon sergeant, SFC Kotisinski crying uncontrollably as he becomes overwhelmed by the whole scene of the brass band, high ranking brass, and families as far as one can see. The PFC asks, “Sgt. Ski, what is wrong man?” SFC Kotisinski brushes his rain soaked tears away. He takes a somewhat choked breath and answers, “It wasn’t like this when we came back from Vietnam.” Without knowing the impact of his act, the PFC reaches out a hand and says, “Welcome home Ski!” This earned more tears from a warrior so long denied that simple recognition.
Flash forward to now: Veterans Day is upon us again. What does this day mean to you? Is it a day off? Is it a day you don’t have to deal with the challenges of school or work? Or is it a day you watch the news and think, “Wow, if it wasn’t for the men and women past, present and the future that wear the uniform of the USA, I could be living in some nightmare where all I take for granted is lost?” For as long as men and women wear that uniform and take an oath to uphold our constitution and protect our country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic, we will never have to live in the fear of experiencing that nightmare.
As Americans, we tend to disagree with one another from time to time. Our personal views on politics, government policies, religion, as well as a host of other issues, will never be in sync and that is just fine. As Americans, we have those rights to disagree and voice our opinions and beliefs as provided to all of us by our Constitution. In my humble opinion, there is one fact that I believe we all should agree upon. In our past history, it has been proven that whenever a foreign or domestic entity felt the need to threaten our freedoms and way of life, Americans do unite as one! The men and women of our armed forces, as the “tip of the spear,” have been, and will always be, prepared to defend our great nation regardless of the cost of their great sacrifices. With myself being the young PFC mentioned above on Green Ramp that cold November day, I can attest to that fact personally. So on this Veterans Day when you come across a hero who has worn the uniform and made those sacrifices, please put out your hand and say, “Thank you” and “Welcome home!” We, as Americans, can sleep easy through the night while these heroes stand their post and keep us safe.
President SVA St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, SPC