Award Ceremony

When I was a Marine Congressional Fellow in 2010, I had it arranged that my father Blair Meglathery officially receive his Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. It had been noted in his record book in 1964 when he earned it, but it had never been presented.

It is that time of year again where the leaves turn, the air gets crisper and, most importantly, I watch my Philadelphia Eagles stay consistent and disappoint me for yet another season. But, it also means that Veterans Day will shortly be upon us.

As such, I wanted to take the opportunity to say happy Veterans Day to our fellow VetsFirst veterans and to express what the holiday means to me. I would also like to encourage our members to send in their comments as to what it means to them. I would love to post those on our website.

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While the number of those that serve continues to shrink, it is important to note the important role veterans play and to acknowledge that their influence on public policy is often greater than the sum of their parts. After all, United Spinal Association, and by default, VetsFirst, have their roots in the action of returning World War II veterans who fought for their rights and in the process helped all Americans with disabilities

As you can imagine, Veterans Day has deep meaning for me. Many of you already know I am a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq. So my connection to veterans is directly related to my service. However, Veterans Day means more to me than a reflection on my colleagues with whom I served in the Anbar and Babil provinces.

Veterans Day is a day in which all veterans can see their link to the past. As a Marine veteran, I can trace my “bloodline” to the drinking men of Tun tavern who served in the rigging of wooden ships and landed in New Providence. It means, in a weird way, my father is my brother, since he was (and most definitely still is) a Marine. It means I am the brother of the men at Belleau Wood where in 1918 more Marines died in that battle than in the entire of history of the Corps up to that point. It means that I am brothers with the docent at the National Museum of the Marine Corps who as a 19 year old landed at Iwo Jima on D Day +1; a battle in which we lost more Marines than at Belleau Wood.

More and more as our military integrates itself, I find that soldiers, sailors, airmen and coast guardsmen are my siblings as well. I served with the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Anbar province. Their division was named “the Rock of the Marne” for being steadfast at the second battle of the Marne. I proudly wore their patch on my body armor. They are my siblings and so are their forefathers.

Veterans are a tie to our history as a nation, for if it were not for their action and sacrifice, we might not have achieved our independence, slavery may have been extended for years, Europe might be dominated by National Socialism or Communism. Beyond that, veterans are our tie to the future. The young veterans now will be the ones who lead our nation in the years to come.

As a child, I did not cry watching Bambi or Old Yeller. But if you play the Marines’ Hymn or the Battle Hymn of the Republic, well, I swear dust gets caught in my eye. I get misty eyed because at the first notes of the music, I instantly reflect on the past and think of the sacrifices made by others for me. Were it not for veterans, I would not have the life my family and I enjoy. I honor our veterans and I thank them for making this country what it is and thank them because their efforts have benefited every American.

To our Veterans at VetsFirst and United Spinal Association, you have my sincere respect, admiration and affection.

Ross Meglathery, MPA, Director
VetsFirst, a program of United Spinal Association