4 thoughts on “Veterans’ Day

  1. This might be one of those aging moments for me, but I remember being a kid and “Veterans Day” was about old people. It was usually someone’s grandfather who was in “The Big One” or on occasion there was someone’s dad who was a Vietnam vet or there was always an Uncle Billy who still wore combat fatigues, rode a motorcycle and would tell stories completely unappropriate for children when he had a few beers (stories we all loved, BTW). It was maybe a mention in grade school or something, but it wasn’t much.
    As I got older, I wondered if I’d ever be a vet. When the Gulf War I came along, I was in the prime age group. (I remember upon the bombing of Baghdad, there was a concern that they’d be instituting a draft. I had my selective service card and wondered if I’d get a number and be called.) My uncle ended up going over there. He only spent about a month in the desert, but he was never the same when he came back. He died far too young of an illness people still can’t figure out and they just eventually chalked him up to cancer. Of course, the war ended in less than six months, we figured we were done.
    Now on campus, I see kids who are vets. I mean I’m talking college-age kids who are back from a tour. I’m stunned by how many there are and the stories they tell. (It puts my life in perspective when I’m telling a story about something I did while working somewhere and I’m looking at a kid who could say, “Yeah, that’s cool, but this one time when we were getting pelted with RPGs…”) I know the wars have always been fought by the young, but I guess I never realized how young. Maybe it was because I was always younger…
    On Veterans Day, I’m always grateful for these men and women who give so much of themselves for the betterment of others and the protection of this country. It’s something as I get older, I realize I probably never could have done. (Of course my father, who served in the Air Force in the 1960s, explained that you’re always amazed what you can do when you have to. Still, I don’t think I’d have had the guts to do what these folks do.) I find it sad that we don’t honor them as much as we should and that they’re now stuck playing out the string in Iraq, risking their lives every day.
    Godspeed, ladies and gentlemen. You are the best of all of us.

  2. I knew too well I could probably not do the “pelted with RPG’s” thing. The military wanted me badly when I graduated high school, and again when I graduated college. I had taken my ASVABs and scored very very high in all categories.
    So I joined AmeriCoprs and spent the maximum of two years doing it. I’d like to have had the option for it to be four or six (since that’s what the marines have to do), but AmeriCorps has strict regulations that prevent anyone from pursuing it as a career (like the Peace Corps which you can re-up and stay in for a decade at a time if you choose)
    National service is not the -same- thing as military service by a mile, but it is -some- thing. It’s my part that I felt I had to do. It it should never pay as well, nor is national service likely to deserve a holiday like Veterans Day.

  3. What Doc said. Amen.
    My kid brother’s a Gulf War I vet.
    I did a hitch in the peacetime Air Force.
    Yes. What you can do, when you have to, will surprise you.
    The real tragedy is none of these kids should have had to.

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