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Honoring our Country's Wingmen on Veteran's Day
By Waldo Waldman

As we celebrate this Veterans Day to honor our country's heroes and pay respect to their service and sacrifice, it's difficult not to get caught up with the emotions and controversy surrounding the recent massacre at Fort Hood Army base in TX. What happened was indeed a tragedy and the families and loved ones of those killed or injured will have many challenging days ahead. My heartfelt condolences go out to all of them.

Although difficult to do, I am trying not to focus on the individual responsible for this tragedy. I believe he was a traitor to the core values that have established America as a pillar of freedom and democracy and I will not let his act of cowardice dilute the true meaning of Veterans Day. With the war on terror so prevalent in the news, we need to remind ourselves that those executing government policy on the battlefront are real men and women with families, dreams, and aspirations. They don't make the policy, but simply carry out their duties with honor, courage and commitment.

As a former fighter pilot and veteran with 65 combat missions in Iraq and Serbia, believe me when I say there is no greater advocate for peace than a soldier. And while we may not agree 100% with the decisions our country makes, our commitment and our responsibility to our country should always take precedence over our personal opinions and feelings.
When we take an oath to "support and defend the constitution of the United States," we should honor it. It's about commitment, integrity, courage and sacrifice and I am a firm believer that it takes character and discipline to uphold these patriotic values.

So, as Americans, how can we pay tribute to our veterans and to those currently serving on this special day? We do it by committing ourselves to service in our everyday lives and creating an environment in our country that embraces the values and principles that our soldiers fight to protect. We should:

* Honor our responsibilities as parents, employees and business owners.

* Live with integrity at home and at work.

* Lend a wing and help those who are suffering in this tough economy.

* Respect our environment, give to charity and volunteer in our communities.

In essence, we need to set the example and live our lives with honor and integrity so that our veterans and troops abroad can truly say, "America is worth fighting for!"

So my question today to you is this. Are you worth fighting for?

YOU are America. Don't look upon your neighbor to serve if you aren't willing to do so yourself. Service begins with you.

I believe you don't need to wear a flight suit or army fatigues to serve our country. The best way we can thank our veterans is to make them proud of us through our own personal commitment, courage, and compassion. We need to be warriors for freedom and do the right thing by living with honor. This is how we can make Veterans Day...and every day....a day worth celebrating.

Never Fly Solo

Lt. Col. Rob "Waldo" Waldman is a former combat decorated fighter pilot and leadership speaker. He is donating all of his advance profits of his new book Never Fly Solo (McGraw-Hill) that releases on 1 December to veterans in need. Please visit and buy a book for the special wingmen in your life to let them know they aren't flying solo with you on their wing.



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