PVA From The Top – Who We Are

Remembering who we are as a nation, veteran and PVA member

By Charles Brown

November is a special month for me, and I hope that it may be for you, as well. There are three distinct celebrations that mark my month with camaraderie, remembrance and family.

The first celebration I’m honored to always be a part of is the Nov. 10 birthday of the United States Marine Corps. On this day, we celebrate the brotherhood of all Marines by remembering and saying the names of all those who came before, who set the course for future Marines to aspire to and to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

I earned the title of Marine in April 1985. That November, as a lance corporal in my dress blues, I attended my first Marine Corps Ball at Naval Air Station Cecil Field in Florida. I remember that night fondly, as it was the only time I’ve been able to celebrate our birthday in full uniform. I was injured in June 1986 and was still in the hospital recovering from my injury that November. Every year since, I take time on Nov. 10 to remember those Marines who continue to serve and throughout the day, I reach out to my brothers with whom I serve in Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

PVA is my second calling of service. I strive to pay it forward as my predecessors have done for me by building an organization that fights for the rights to better accessible health care and benefits that allow us to live a higher quality of life and advocates for veterans with catastrophic spinal-cord injuries and diseases. The biggest bonus is working with PVA members because they represent every branch of service. We are survivors and fighters.

You see, PVA embodies what Veterans Day is all about. Originally called Armistice Day, Nov. 11 was a celebration of the end of World War I, which was to be the war to end all wars. The 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month signaled the end of those tragic years of war that ravaged Europe and the world.

Then-President Dwight Eisenhower officially changed its name to Veterans Day in 1954. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved it to the fourth Monday in October. It officially moved in 1971 and stayed there until then-President Gerald Ford moved it back to its rightful place on Nov. 11 in 1975 because of the day’s significance.

Veterans Day commemorates veterans of all wars. We honor those who served from every era, every branch, every year. To me, this remembrance is even more than ceremonies and gatherings. It’s about being a part of the small community of people who stepped up to serve this nation and defend it. It’s about still serving with those who take on the mantle and continue to serve our nation.

We are a small but mighty group, a family. I’m honored now to serve alongside those who didn’t put on a uniform because they’re serving our nation and us military members. I’m thankful that the biggest part of my life is my immediate family of parents, brother and sister, niece and nephew, aunts, uncles and cousins. But there’s a much broader term of family — the family that built an integral part of our lives. They are my extended family from church, school, work, neighbors and for me, the military.

I always look forward to Thanksgiving because I’m blessed every year to celebrate this special remembrance with my immediate family and extended family. For me, this is the best time to reflect and honor those who have made our lives better and those who sacrifice today for our lives.

Please take a moment and reach out and spread some kindness to your neighbor and others in need. Let’s remember who we are as a nation. We are the melting pot of the world. Let’s live together, strive for a better life and put down our differences. Let’s be a strong country together! 

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