Virus Washington Memorial Day
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By Mark Oliva

It is a privilege to grow old. That might sound counterintuitive to a culture that celebrates youth and the possibilities of new beginnings. This Veterans Day, though, we take a moment to honor those who know this privilege all too well.

The firearm industry is a unique place in our nation’s connection to our veterans. Many in our ranks are filled by those who served in the military’s ranks. It is an umbilical connection, I suppose. A profession in arms traded for another profession in arms. Our industry is filled with men and women who carried a gun in defense of our nation.

Now, they’re in the business of providing Americans with the means of exercising their God-given right to keep and bear arms. They make the shotguns and the rifles that veterans across America are using to teach their children and grandchildren of their hunting heritage and blessings of freedom. Some among them produce the rifles and handguns our military carries today.

Those veterans continue to serve the military in a life after their time in uniform.

In Our Ranks

The firearm industry, and even here at NSSF, knows we are blessed to work alongside those who served in peace and in war. They’ve stood guard and fought for their lives. They’ve celebrated life, both in the victories and the losses. Some bear scars, even though not all of them are visible.

They’re all forever changed, though. Life has a certain sweetness when an individual has been faced with the reality of how fleeting and precious it can be. We take this day, once a year, to honor them. They’re the ones who have preserved our freedoms for 244 years.

They’ve kept this experiment in democracy alive, standing in the gap, facing sometimes insurmountable odds and knowing they were ready to sacrifice their own lives if necessary. It is a debt our nation can never truly repay. For this one day, though, we pause to honor them.

In firearm production factories and corporate headquarters across the nation, veterans are a fixture. Their hands are literally busy manufacturing the freedoms we value in our nation. Those veterans are a critical asset to our companies, just as they are to our national character.

Their contribution to our Second Amendment rights, our hunting heritage and recreational shooting sports is indelible. Our nation is richer because of them and our industry flourishes because of them.

Everyday Heroes, Every Day

These veterans know the privilege of growing old. They’ve sacrificed. They’ve honored fallen patriots. They carry with them their memories, their legacies and their charge to live a life worthy of their sacrifices.

The firearm industry collectively, and NSSF in particular, takes this day to celebrate that we have such men and women and that we get to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. A single day might not seem enough. For the veterans among us, though, that handshake, the cold drink, the pat on the back and the simple “thank you” is invaluable.

It is a privilege to have served a nation that values its veterans. It is a privilege to have served alongside fellow veterans, even through some of the most challenging of days. It’s also a privilege to work in an industry that knows – and lives – this each and every day.


Mark Oliva is Director of Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industries. He is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years of service, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania, and Zaire.

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  1. Did you say the nation honors it’s veterans?

    But the president of the nation said this about an American who had served honorably and heroically:

    “He was a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa.

    “I like people who weren’t captured,” the current Republican front-runner told political consultant Frank Luntz, who hosted the event.

    “He lost and let us down,” Trump said. “I’ve never liked him as much after that.”

    “I don’t like losers,” the real-estate mogul, who has gone through corporate bankruptcy four times, added.“

    Losers, it is what it is.

    Thank you for worshiping chickenhawk Donald Trump, it makes this 2020 election victory so much sweeter.

    Trump/Putin 2020

    • The only reason John McCain came home when so many did not is because his Daddy was a Rear Admiral. McCain also tossed the wife who faithfully waited for him and married a rich one to bankroll his political career. He learned nothing from Vietnam, wanting us to be in every conflict, never questioning whether it was in American interests or not. I will never mourn McStain’s passing.

      • Rat, you are a dark and dirty liar not fit to breathe the air of my country.

        Do you think it’s patriotic to lie about the honorable service of a true American hero?

        You weren’t there and don’t know what you’re talking about. So let’s hear from some men who served with John McCain.

        “Orson Swindle’s first conversation with the late Senator John McCain was tapped out in code on a wall between prison cells.

        The retired Marine officer met McCain in 1967 when both were prisoners of war at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison in Vietnam. U.S. servicemen used a secret code to communicate with each other while confined to their cells.

        “The first thing he tapped to me was a joke that I can’t tell you,” Swindle said, because the joke was a bawdy one.

        The two men, imprisoned together until their release in early 1973, quickly formed a friendship that lasted until McCain’s death last week.

        FILE – U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain lies injured in North Vietnam wearing an arm cast, in this undated photo.
        FILE – U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain lies inj
        FILE – U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain lies injured in North Vietnam wearing an arm cast, in this undated photo.
        McCain’s condition was dire when he was brought into what was formally known as Hòa Lò prison with two broken arms, a broken leg and other injuries sustained after his Skyhawk bomber jet was hit by a Vietnamese missile, October 26, 1967, forcing him to eject and parachute into Trúc Bach Lake. He was rescued from the lake and beaten by North Vietnamese fighters.

        Air Force Colonel Bud Day, a close friend of both men, told Swindle that when McCain was “dumped” in his cell after his capture, immobile in a full body cast, he didn’t look like he would survive. “[Day] just said, ‘I don’t see how this guy’s going to live,’” Swindle said. “But that’s John McCain. He never, ever gave up.”

        During a phone conversation Friday, Swindle said he and McCain, later imprisoned in the same cell, talked constantly — partly to keep their minds sharp, partly to pass the time.

        “We talked about everything we had ever done, remembered, thought of, hoped for. It was just an amazing friendship; he was a fascinating guy. … We told stories about our kids and everything. Every movie we’d ever seen, every book we’d ever read.”

        Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Orson Swindle, a former POW who shared a cell for a time with John McCain in Vietnam, speaks at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 2, 2008.
        Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Orson Swindle, a fo
        Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Orson Swindle, a former POW who shared a cell for a time with John McCain in Vietnam, speaks at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 2, 2008.
        ?Cracking jokes, lifting spirits

        Leon ‘Lee’ Ellis, a retired Air Force colonel, was also imprisoned with McCain. He was one of the youngest of the POWs and knew McCain first by reputation, as the son of the admiral in charge of U.S. Pacific forces. McCain’s refusal of a chance for release had made an impression on Ellis. Despite his status as an admiral’s son, despite his life-threatening injuries, McCain refused to leave prison until all of the men imprisoned ahead of him could be released as well.

        “I knew he’d refused an opportunity to go home, but I didn’t know him personally until we were moved into the same camp,” Ellis said. Once the two men were acquainted, he enjoyed the famous son’s company. “We would walk together inside the courtyard of the camp, inside the walls, and talk and joke and tell stories.”

        Swindle said humor was one of the tools the POWs deployed against the terror, uncertainty and monotony of life in enemy territory.

        “You could easily get down in the dumps,” he said. With some men enduring captivity as long as eight years by the end of the war, Swindle said, “we needed to pick each other up.

        “We had been through so much that was terrifying and painful,” he said. He noted that the torture to which POWs were subjected — “that’s the subject of a whole lot of other discussion” — largely stopped after the death of Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh in 1969. But with the easing of the struggle to survive came the challenge of staying optimistic in the face of monotonous uncertainty.

        FILE – Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a rally in Davenport, Iowa, Oct. 11, 2008.
        FILE – Republican presidential candidate Sen. John
        FILE – Then-Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain speaks at a rally in Davenport, Iowa, Oct. 11, 2008.
        ?McCain was often the ringleader of projects designed to lift the men’s spirits.

        “The last Christmas we were there,” Swindle said, “we decided we’d have a Christmas play. We enacted ‘A Christmas Carol,’ totally ad-libbed. John played Scrooge, of course.”

        Three months later when word of their impending release finally came, Ellis said the men were careful not to betray any joy or hopefulness to their captors. “We were determined, one, not to give them a photo op of cheering and going crazy, and two, we also had an attitude of we’ll wait and see. So when they read the protocol to us out in the camp yard there, we all just turned and walked away and walked back to our cells.” He said even the day his group left the camp, unbridled celebration didn’t break out until their plane was over international waters.

        From hell-raiser to statesman

        Many of the POWs from that time are still in touch today, their struggle to survive the experience binding them together in a unique fraternity. McCain, Swindle, and Ellis have all been involved in POW reunions. McCain wrote the foreword to Ellis’s 2012 book on leadership. Ellis and Swindle supported McCain in the 2008 presidential election.”

        • Sir, this is a wendys…

          Why do people even bother with your low blow attempts. You are pathetic. Your love for mccain would never exist had the man you hate so much not called him out for being a terrible politician. Nobody except leftist scum like you believes Trump doesn’t support veterans. Go outside, take a breather, and acknowledge your mental instabilities that keep you commenting so negatively here on a regular basis. Why don’t you just go to reddit where people believe your bullshit? Because psychological disorders filled with illusions of selfishness? Bruh, get a life.

        • I won’t call into question McCain’s service, but I will say I don’t miss his neo-con leanings and glad his foreign policy visions died with him for the most part, save the Bolton-types still around. McCain did a disservice to the armed forces by pushing his neo-con vision during his tenure in DC.

          I also think it’s hilarious how the left disliked him or even reviled him until he joined team “orange man bad” and suddenly he is a leftist martyr and saint. BTW, when and where did you serve miner?

        • McCain was an absolute terrible Senator, and I even made sure not to vote for him last election. His military record was nothing impressive. Outside of surviving captivity, I will call him a loser. -Army Veteran.

        • John McCain was an anti Liberty, anti-freedom former Vietnam POW. He was a traitor to the oath he took to defend the US Constitution. Against all enemies. Foreign and domestic.

  2. Ask the Iraqis and Afghanis if they are celebrating today, having hundreds of thousands of dead, thanks to the U.S. military. Ask the Libyans if they are better off today because the U.S. militarily took out their government, leaving anarchy and death that still continues to this day. Celebrate the American Empire that, once sets illegal foot in another country, refuses to ever leave. The U.S. military is not to defend the United States territory. Are you aware that we have no defense against cruise missiles? The U.S. military is nothing but a bully, smacking around countries much smaller and weaker than itself.

    Our Founding Fathers would be appalled. They distrusted standing armies, with good reason. The Founding Fathers didn’t run around celebrating veterans. The norm back then was that military service was only required when the country was threatened. European wars were something to avoid at all costs, as were military alliances. Words of wisdom that those inside the Beltway gleefully ignore.

    • We have documented defenses against cruise missiles, so nice try but no cigar.

      The U.S. Military would not ever need to be deployed in any “countries much smaller and weaker” if they didn’t openly declare Death to America and foment war upon us. I imagine most of our soldier stationed abroad would love to be closer to home with their families. So maybe you could talk to those other countries and ask them to pretty please stop telling their insurgents and sleepers to work to kill Americans?

      The Founders certainly distrusted standing armies, on this you are factually correct, though you twist the truth into a pretzel and state that they wouldn’t “celebrate” veterans. I imagine that there were many veterans of the Revolutionary War living among society well into the 1790s and beyond, providing reminders to the Founders of the struggles and sacrifices paid by so many.


      As Gandalf aptly said,
      “Go back to the Shadow!”

    • Oh those poor Afghanis, only wanted to oppress the ethnic minorities in the north while harboring a terrorist responsible for the highest casualty terror attack on America in history. Woe is them. Actually, from the ones I asked, they were by and large very thankful to have a government that wasn’t the Taliban and particularly the ones in from the north and west were glad to have finally have the Taliban thumb off them.

  3. Trump is his own worst enemy. He doesn’t like losers – Most winners have lost more than once, that is what makes them stronger.
    Trump has done more than other presidents, despite what congress did to stop him. He has done a great job, but dissing a POW is a new low, even for him.
    There was no love lost between either of these men, the attack on McCain “being a loser” was totally uncalled for.
    Even if he is a shit, he is our shit and he is doing what he said he would. It is hard to ask for more.

    • Tbf mccain is a Fucken loser.

      He tried using his service to better his political gain and it failed, like his politics. Trump us a loud mouth and his one single comment is a shit stain compared to a dinosaur turd the size of a mobile home.

  4. the problem is we honor them by calling them the greatest generation
    then we turn around and dishonor them BY NOT DOING ANYTHING THE WAY THEY WOULD F**CKING DO IT

  5. Honor our military you say?!? They spit on & cursed at Vietnam vets. One lowlife ran for President-John Kerry. At least McCain didn’t throw Vietnam vets under the bus. And now the Dimscum scum is illegally seizing the Presidency! Trump has done more for vets than ANY President…

    • “They spit on & cursed at Vietnam vets. One lowlife ran for President-John Kerry.”

      And Jane Fonda was idolized in Hollywood and married Tom Hayden, who was elected to several offices in CA. Serial bomber Bill Ayers became Obama’s friend and guru. The list of scvmbags who profited from their anti-Americanism is endless.

      The worst snake of all was Lyndon Johnson, who had the [email protected] to accuse Barry Goldwater of being a warmonger and then sent thousand of American guys off to die. Johnson was a tried-and-true Democrat who rose to prominence by stuffing Ballot Box 13. Some things never change.

  6. Love McCain or Despise him, it’s a coin toss. For every story touting his virtues, there’s a story discrediting those virtues.
    I didn’t vote for either Obama or McCain in 2008 because McCain was the epitome of a classic RINO. For the same reason, I didn’t vote for Obama or Romney in 2012.
    Yes McCain is much loved and venerated in Arizona, and perhaps he did some good for his State, but for the country as a whole, his record is fair at best.
    McCain’s active attempts at closing the POW/MIA books solely on the word of North Vietnam makes me question his Patriotism.


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