Sunday, November 11, 2012

Honor and Respect

Veterans are a special breed.

We have done things no civilian probably has. Some of us had it easy. I like to brag, especially around guys who were in the Army or Marines at the same time I was in the Air Force, that in four years of service to my country I never spent a night without a soft mattress under my butt and a cold beer in the fridge a few steps away.

I especially like to let that 'slip out' after the conversations about 6 weeks in the field during training with only a Saturday Night Shower; or tales of being at sea for 6 months.

But even those guys had it easy, compared to the combat vets. The men who fought from Normandy to Berlin. The men who had ships blown out from under them in the Pacific. The men who then spent two years in Korea. Or Vietnam; the Gulf War; Iraq or Afghanistan or countless other situations where our military men and women have willfully gone into harm's way.

There are other, earlier wars, going all the way back to the Revolution, but veterans of those conflicts are no longer with us, according to Wikipedia.

There are those who hope our country creates no more combat veterans, I among them. War is, as General Sherman described it, Hell. The fewer young men and women we put into that Hell the better.

But I know that is, at least for now an unattainable goal. The world is not full of peace and light and unicorns.

It's full of Iran and Al-Qeada.

We cannot fight Al-Qeada with good will and happy thoughts. We have tried that in the past.

It caused September 11, 2001.

We are seeing the effects again of our slackening resolve against Al-Qeada, with the increasing attacks in Afghanistan. This isn't the 1960's. We can't be the proverbial hippy, poking daisies in the gun barrels we face. The finger on that trigger isn't a well disciplined National Guardsman; its an uneducated young Moslem, hyped up on thoughts of revenge for imagined slights.

So we will, by necessity, create another generation of veterans. We'll send them off to do our dirty work, pray for them while they're gone and honor them when they return; either with a parade, or a flag-draped casket. It is only through our resolve to create and use that force, and, more importantly, the willingness of our young men and women to volunteer to do that dirty work, that this country is and will remain free.

To honor them, every year we set aside a day to recall and honor those men and women, their service, and their sacrifice.

Today is that day.

Take a minute today to thank a veteran you know; I think they have earned it.

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