Hello Americans, – and to you Veterans – yeah, happy Veterans’ Day. It is good to be alive!
My earliest memories of Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day were being taken as a preschooler to the ceremonies in town. Music, parades, drums, bugles, speeches, flags, and the volleys. We little kids would hold our ears, then scramble for the empty casings as soon as the firing party marched off. We didn’t have a clue – at age four. I never understood why my mother would cry.
Sixty-plus years later it is time for my annual cringe. Now in too many cases the people who don’t have a clue are running the events, – and making a botch out of them. While a few older veterans try to maintain traditions and a sense of dignity, the younger “all about me” generations are oblivious. Most actually think of these two special days as “Holidays” and head for the mall looking for sales. The town officials and local politicians who show up are merely making obligatory appearances. Often they try to rotate that duty – hoping that this year they won’t get rained on.
They don’t have a clue, – and it shows. Most of them couldn’t name three battles from WWI, four from WWII, even one from Korea, and not one from Vietnam. Desert Storm and GWII are just fuzzy sandy things to them, places they really can’t find on a map. No clue. And if townspeople do show up, it’s to see an “event”. They often bring their dogs. Would they bring their dogs to a family funeral? No couth, no clue!
And I blame our veterans equally with our teachers. We made it seem almost too easy, particularly Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, and GWII. Killing Taliban leaders by Predator strikes seems very Buck Rogers, – except these younger folks don’t know who he is. We made it seem easy, so people don’t have a clue what it’s like to walk all night in the rain with a 60-lb rucksack and humping an M-60. And the teachers aren’t going to ever mention it. If they discuss war at all in the schools, – it’s all about the evils, the folly, and the needless suffering. They NEVER teach about the millions and millions around the world that Americans have liberated. And they don’t have a clue about the real cost, they calculate cost in dollars.
Tomorrow petty politicians will speak about “service” and “sacrifice”, and maybe even valor. Most have never missed a meal, slept in the open, or gone without toilet paper. They’ve never been seasick for days, or airsick for hours. They never slept in a hole or carried the body of a buddy. Hell, they never had buddies. No clue.
Happy Veterans’ Day Veterans! On one hand I wish you all hadn’t made it seem so easy, – and on the other, – well I’m damned glad it wasn’t any harder. Like you I’m thinking of someone who isn’t here this year, and others who haven’t been around for a lifetime. I still see their faces, – I still hear their laughter, – and I still cherish their friendship. Somehow we have to recapture our country for them. We the living owe them that much!
/s/ Iron Mike
Old Soldier, – Still Good for Parts!