Archive for November, 2013

Someone once said that “Veterans are unique people in the fact that they turned over their very lives to the government that they served, like a blank check, where many had to lay it all on the line for one another.  What other profession requires that? I can’t think of any other profession that leaves so indelible a mark on our country as veterans, whether they served in an actual war or just a hitch in our military during war time. It is only fitting that we reserve a day not for any one person, but for a singular role in American life. We celebrate Veterans’ Day.”

I’m proud to be one and thank God we live in a country where vets are so honored. And rightly so, because veterans of all of our wars have made great citizens. And since 911 our country has drawn closer to our vets than ever before. For some of us it has finally became patriotic just to be a vet. So, what does this day do for you other than being a holiday?

For me, it is memories, lots of memories. One memory I have is that I can close my eyes and see myself walking to the airplane and looking back over my shoulder and seeing my wife with tears in her eyes standing there holding my daughters. I can remember wondering if that would be the last time I would ever see them again. Like you, I never can forget memories like that. On the other side of that coin, my wife in a sense, is a veteran also. You see, she had to see me off wondering the same thing. It was bad enough to play the role of both parents, but waiting each day for the mail to run, praying that the proverbial telegram was not included. Yes, she is a vet too. And I honor her for her service too.

Like you, the only war I know is the one I was in. And for me that was the Vietnam War, where I served two tours of duty. And unfortunately, like you (if that was your war,) I came home to a different country than when I left. I was young and naïve and did not understand all the protest against us. Like you, I heeded the call to serve my country. And like you, I did not sign up to occupy any country, oppress anyone, to commit atrocities, to kill babies and such, like we were accused of. I know some atrocities went on, but I never saw them. When you send a million men off to war, there are bound to be a percentage of bad guys included, just like you find in any American City today. However, that was not the norm, but the protester put us all in that bracket. I have never had a problem with people protesting something they believe in, but the veterans did not start that war, we only answered the call. I actually fell in love with the country and its people. What the protesters and people like Jane Fonda did hurt deeply, and caused me, like you, to clam up and not talk about that war. Now 40 years later it is still hard to talk about except to vets like you. After 911, things really changed for us. It was ok to be a vet again, much like the vets, (such as my dad), were at end of WW II. That is until recently. I really thought that the era of “All dogs and soldiers keep off the grass,” was over, until we had a so called government shut down. We got to see what some in our government really think about our vets when they tried to visit the war memorials.

Also like you, for many years not a day went by that I didn’t go back to Vietnam at some time during the day or night. Even today like you, regardless of what war you served in, it takes very little to spark a memory or two. Today I can close my eyes and hear the helicopters and remember the smells. I can even remember the smell of that herbicide called Agent Orange while flying through areas where it was sprayed. I think about how it has damaged the health of many of my friends, mine own included , and maybe even yours. I saw my uncle die from what it did to him. I think about the fight veterans have waged with the VA just to get them to recognize what it has done to us. And the fight that the Iraq and Afghanistan vets have waged for similar health issues or problems. I think about how some came home (no matter what war) and brought the war home with them. We have no unwounded war veterans. We all have the scars, some are just more visible than others. Yes, Veterans’ Day is a day of memories.

Outside of that, you can’t pick a better country. Outside of that, I doubt anyone of you wouldn’t hastate to do it all over again. Even now at our age, if our homeland was in jeopardy and the call to arms was made, you would be there on the front line. That’s because you are an American Veteran. Great American Patriots all, who like our forefather patriots, loved freedom more than their own life.

God bless you all…


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