In the United States, November 11th is set aside as Veterans' Day, a day to honor those who have served in the armed forces of the United States. Most countries have such a celebration, and well they should. Personally, I honor all veterans, including those who would have once been my enemies.
It was originally called Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War. And even then, there were honors to those who had served in that war. In in the early 1950's, we had been through one other (and bigger) war and we were in the Korean conflict, and so Armistice Day was re-named to Veterans' Day in honor of all veterans.
All veterans began their lives as ordinary people leading ordinary lives. For some, military service was considered a rite of passage on the way to adulthood. Others were given no choice, they were drafted. Some volunteered. Others chose the way they enterd because the alternative was to be drafted. There are no limits to the possibilities of their motivations. One rather well-known test pilot and fighter ace became an aviation cadet to avoid the duty roster. Another fighter ace who won the Medal of Honor joined to get off of the farm.
Once in uniform, there was yet another occasion for fate and fortune. Some were needed to fill jobs behind desks and in supply warehouses. Others were needed as leaders, and others needed to be led. Some earned more rank and medals than others, but in the final analysis that is not much of a distinction. After all, would the heroic fighter pilot or the decorated hero of the battle have accomplished what they did without support from the supply clerks, the cooks, the medics, and ever-so-many others? The Army once estimated that it takes fifty people in other jobs to support one soldier in the field.
And so, we take this occasion to give thanks for them all!