Pride in service to country is evident.
Story: Joe Angione
One of the largest concentrations of retired and former U.S. military personnel resides in The Villages. You can see them proudly wearing shirts and caps denoting their branch of service, the wars in which they saw combat, and former naval personnel display the ship they served aboard. Many cars have license plates with military themes.
Villagers are honored to have served their country, and it’s very satisfying to see how active military visiting The Villages are treated. If you show up in uniform, you will be thanked for your service, bought a meal, or a drink at a Villages club or restaurant.
I’m proud to see the respect for our military that burns so brightly here is spreading across the nation, particularly now when threats from new and old enemies are more terrifying than ever. With a grandson newly graduated from Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, I hear stories from him about the surprisingly frequent instances when strangers approach him, thank him for his service, and offer to assist him in some special way.
When traveling here for Christmas last year, he said wherever he stopped someone wanted to buy breakfast or lunch. And when returning to Fort Leonard Wood after Christmas, while sitting in the Orlando airport, a little boy, maybe 4 or 5, stood nearby with his father and kept looking over at my grandson. After a few minutes, the father brought the child over to say hello and immediately the little boy jumped on his lap and gave him a big hug. There were lots of smiles and a few tears on the faces of those who saw this.
Reactions like these to our young people in uniform are happening everywhere, except perhaps on college and university campuses, where it hasn’t sunk in yet that getting an excellent education in a secure environment is a right and a privilege preserved for them by those who serve and protect “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
We must do everything we can to honor military personnel and to ensure our government provides what they need to do their jobs well. Not only do our men and women in uniform protect us, without them there would be no freedom anywhere on Earth. In this regard, they are the world’s most precious resource.