Sunday, November 8, 2009

NPR - Thank a Veteran

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, Armistice was signed ending World War I, the war to end all wars. We all know it didn't, our history lessons don't seemed to be remember very far for very long, and wars seems to be the inevitable destination of those who weren't awake in history class and don't want to remember the human loss and damage war does to nations. But any veteran knows this.

So while Armistice Day is Wednesday, take the time between then and Thanksgiving to thank a veteran. It doesn't really matter who and when they served. It's the fact they served their country when they were young, and some didn't come home or came home less than whole. To the latter, thank them even more and make it your duty to fight for veterans to get good care from the government, all of us, they served to fight and protect this nation.

And that's you. It's me too. But I also served. I enlisted March 7, 1969 and was discharged January 2, 1973. I didn't see Vietnam, or even Southeast Asia as I was in a top secret group we weren't allowed near combat. I worked in the nuclear monitoring program which was operated for the US government by the Air Force. I realized my luck that while I went overseas on occasion I was safe from someone wanting to kill me.

As I grew up in high school watching the war unfold on television I knew that the draft was a reality for me, and after my first year of college and being kicked out of the house by Dad, it became a very real reality. So I enlisted in the Air Force. I didn't want to die in a foreign land in a war I didn't understand then - the truth is that all of my generation didn't understand as it was a war of our fathers, not us. We were the soldiers, and later learned the history and the truth of that war.

And we left our legacy and memory, the Vietnam Memorial. Over 58,000 didn't come home alive. Take a moment of silence in their memory. And take time to express your value of life and the question of war. It's always decided by fathers and fought by sons. It's never fair and rarely right. There are always alternatives to war because all wars have a history of bad diplomacy.

Granted there are exceptions, the last worldwide one being World War II. Every one since had choices and chances to avoid it, but old men decided differently. But there are some that are inevitable, mostly civil wars, such as the former Yugoslavia. But even then you can find the history which created the atmosphere and the environment for war. We just don't seem to learn, and so many of the young generations die or are disabled and many civilians die or suffer unreal effects.

And through it all, good soldiers serve their country. And through it all all good solider love their country to serve for a variety of reasons. But in the end, it's them, all of them, that we owe a thanks. So do that. Tell one how much you appreciate them. Is that so hard when we have chosen to be soldiers?

We have given you your freedom. Isn't that enough to say thanks?

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