By Steve Sanetti
I just got back from a meeting of my Virginia Military Institute class of 1971 50th (!) anniversary committee, and like at all reunions, the stories flew left and right. Back then, commissioning into one of the branches of our armed services upon graduation was mandatory, so virtually everyone in our class served in some capacity. The Vietnam war was beginning to wind down, so only some of my Brother Rats served there. A few lost their lives there. And we remembered those who have gone, with laughter and tears for their friendship, their service, their sacrifice and the lives that they gave up in the defense of our nation.
And so it has been with every generation of Americans. Whether a young soldier, sailor, Marine, airman, or guardsman served because they were drafted or volunteered in times of peace or war, we have been so very fortunate that they answered the call. On Veterans Day in particular, we pause to remember them. Fortunately, it has become the norm to almost reflexively thank a veteran for their service. This was most assuredly not the case when we completed our terms of service in the early 1970s, which was so ironic in that conflicted time when the massive unpopularity of the war was piled upon those who had suffered the most because it was their lot to fight in it. I think in subsequent years we have all come to realize how massively unfair and shameful it was to treat our veterans that way.
Our industry has always prided itself in supporting our veterans, both during their service by providing them the best equipment we can produce, and afterward with programs to help them bear the sometimes overwhelming mental health burdens that many carry with them after the fight. We will never let them down because they have never let us down. And the lessons we learned in leadership, compassion and love of country will stay with all veterans for the rest of their lives.
So I think that every day should be a celebration of our veterans, especially now that an all-volunteer military means that only a small portion of our population truly knows what it means to have served. It means a lot. Keep thanking them. They appreciate it more than you know.
CPT USAR 1st Cavalry Division 1975-78
Steve Sanetti is the Chief Executive Officer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.