I've met a handful of veterans and I'd like to salute them here, not by name but by their contributions to my life and character.
Just before high school, my parish split in two, putting my family in the newly-formed parish, pastored by an Army chaplain. The pastor's best friend, who convinced him to join the Army, also helped at our parish. Both exemplified how to serve God and country. Our pastor was called to serve in the first Gulf war and served in Saudi Arabia in the second conflict until diabetes forced him to retire as a colonel. I believe his best friend is still deployed.
As a high school freshman, I accidentally locked my combination lock backwards on my locker, and my phys ed teacher, whom I still sort of feared at the time, lay on his back to help me unlock it. When he invited me to manage the varsity volleyball team he coached later that year, I gladly accepted. On one of our road trips, he told me he served in the Army between the Korean and Vietnam wars.
In college, I attended an Intro to Film class with someone who served in the USMC for four years between high school and college. We didn't graduate together as he dropped out and back and out again (for no other reason than wanderlust), but we kept in touch and occasionally fortuitously saw some classically bad movies of the 90s. I've since lost touch with him, but he was the inspiration for Tom Gregory of "Home".
To these and all veterans, my gratitude and respect.