I got a little grumpy last week about fireworks. I didn’t mean to be a “Dicky Downer,” but this time of the year is a disaster for our nonhuman friends. They just don’t understand what is going on.

We have been dog sitting the granddog while his human family moved to a new house and then took on a well-earned vacation. Avalon is a sweet, gentle giant, but a giant nonetheless. He was in our home for over a month, stressed almost to the limit. The fireworks pushed him past the limit.

He refused to go outdoors to do his business Monday evening. I insisted. As a result of the ensuing tussle, I not only have an emergency room bill to pay, I can only type a little, finally, today — Thursday, yesterday as you are reading this. My right hand still is still partially numb and sore. Pair that with the gimpy left hand the Viet Cong left me with, and you get an idea how I’m doing today.

This is a column you have read before, but it’s one I think we veterans need to re-read every now and then.

The thing that draws us together as veterans is that each of us has served as a member of the U.S. armed forces. We all had certain jobs to do that required specific skill sets. We were tested to determine our strengths, then we were trained to perform our job-related tasks. Because we were all members of our nation’s uniformed military services, each of us, performing our jobs to the best of our abilities, contributed to the defense of our nation.

Regardless of how good or bad we were at our jobs in the military, the nature of the profession required that, at some time point, we would have to make career changes. For some of us, that time came sooner rather than later. For others, it could not have come soon enough. Still, some of us stayed with the military for a much longer period of time. Some of us retired from military service. Some of us left willingly, some did not, for a variety of reasons. Whatever the circumstances, each of us has been through the experience of moving on to life’s next chapter.

Some of us believe that God has our lives planned. Some believe God presents opportunities that we accept or reject. Some believe that God has given us the ability to make our own decisions. Some of us believe that God makes no intervention in human affairs at all. Regardless of where we come down on the question of divine intervention, each of us must choose how we respond to circumstances, such as warfare, that may change the way we live for the rest of our lives. Those decisions may become increasingly complex when issues such as emotional maturity, identity confusion, anger, depression, and physical disability are factors. Such a dilemma is common among young men and women who must deal with combat-related injuries. Too many of us know far too much about that.

This is an issue with which we have all dealt or are dealing. Those of us for whom this process is in the past have a great deal to offer those who are currently going through it. The great American statesman Benjamin Franklin once observed that never had there been a good war or a bad peace. My own opinion is that war is a ridiculous way to settle arguments, but someone has to fight the bully. We veterans stepped forward to defend our people from the bullies of the world. As long as the American people need defending, Americans like us will step forward to do the job. We have much to offer those who put on the proverbial warriors’ cloaks after us. We each swore an oath to defend the Constitution and, by extension, the people who are governed by that constitution. Many of us like to say we have not been released from that oath. The best way for us to fulfill that pledge is to stand ready to assist those who may answer the call to arms after us.

It has been said, “We were soldiers once, and young.” When we were young, and we were learning how to be soldiers, we helped newer soldiers learn what we already knew. Now, it is our mission to help younger soldiers who are leaving military service learn how to make that transition into senior soldier status. We owe this mission the same dedication we devoted to our active service. In this way, we continue to fulfil our pledge and to serve our great nation.