Praise — the well-earned kind — to our Veterans

So young -- and already, seen too much.

So young — and already, seen too much.

My father, George Karagienakos,  is the only veteran I’ve ever known personally. He, like many of his generation, willingly enlisted in World War II, going so far as to write “18” on the soles of his shoes; so that when asked if he was asked if he was “over 18” (he was 17), he could honestly answer, “Yes.”

George Karagienakos was in the 82nd Airbourne, one of the paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines in Operation Market Garden. One of the few to come out of that alive. The bullet he took in the arm remained there until the day he died.

George Karagienakos neither expected nor wanted praise for any of his actions. Not for going above and beyond, and certainly not for just showing up.

Thanking him for his service to his country was as unwelcome to him as thanking him for putting food on the table. To him, that’s just what a man, a good man, does. There was no distinction.

That’s certainly not to say we should not thank our veterans for their service. We should, and we must.

But I can guarantee that were he here today, there would be smoke coming out of his ears hearing about the parents who reward and praise children for just showing up – parents who want reward and praise for doing the same. He would have a thing or two to say about a society that demands so little from its people, yet whose people expects so much be done for them.

My own concern is that a generation that grows up being rewarded and praised for just showing up is far less likely to go above and beyond — and to do so because that’s just what you do. What a good person does.

I’m writing this to thank my father, George Karagienakos – so deal with it, Pops! Your service was appreciated. To all Veterans, your service appreciated. Words are not enough for the sacrifices you’ve made and continue to make. You deserve more than praise.

America, take better care of your veterans. Raise my taxes — if that’s what it takes to take care of them. Do it.

 


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