Wyoming Adj. Gen. Porter: ‘Veteran’ Means Anything but Ordinary
A lot of pain lies under the pride of those honored on Veterans Day.
"Today I present a few words to a group of Americans that made and continue to make our country possible," Wyoming Military Department Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Greg Porter said at the annual ceremony at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery.
Veterans Day, originally Armistice Day, commemorates the cessation of hostilities of World War I in 1918 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
The day is about lives and stories, Porter said. "This is significant."
In researching what he might say Monday, he found a poem, "Apologia Pro Poemate Meo" -- "an apology on behalf of my poetry" -- by British author and World War I soldier Wilfred Owen.
The poem speaks of the horrors of war and the love of his fellow soldiers, and marks a sharp rebuke of those in England who glorified the conflict.
Porter recited a few of the verses, with the last one the most searing:
"You shall not hear their mirth:
"You shall not come to think them well content
"By any jest of mine. These men are worth
"Your tears: You are not worth their merriment."
Owen was killed on Nov. 4, 1918, one week before the Armistice was signed, and his mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Nov. 11 as the bells were ringing in England, he said.
It's common to say veterans are ordinary Americans: they go to work, attend church and participate in their communities, Porter said.
"But that is not the whole truth, is it," he said. "The word 'veteran' means anything but ordinary."
Veterans swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution," Porter said, adding, "even at the cost of your own life."
Veterans come in all shapes and sizes, but look a little different after they have served, Porter said.
Some are hairier, some are balder, some have a few more lines under their eyes, he said. "Most don't sleep so well."
"We must know the debt we owe them, and why we take every November 11th to recognize them for being extraordinary," Porter said.
"Bless our veterans, bless our families, and bless all those who serve our great nation." he said. "Thank you."