Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans' Day, 2014

Today, November 11th, is the holiday known in America as Veterans' Day. It is one of two days in the year that are designated to honor those who have served in the nation's military services; the other is Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday in May.

The two days have different focuses. Memorial Day honors those who have been killed in our various wars, incursions, police actions, "peacekeeping operations," and other military and quasi-military actions. Veterans' Day honors those who have served.

Veterans' Day started life as a holiday called "Armistice Day," and the November 11th date commemorates the day on which the guns fell silent in 1918 at the end of the First World War ... also known as "The War to End All Wars."

We all know how well that worked out.

Our celebration of the service rendered by our veterans has had its ups and downs over the years. My military service began with my graduation from college and commissioning as an Air Force Second Lieutenant in 1973, at the height of the war in Vietnam. Those of you my age or older will remember that as a very divisive time in this country, and not a pleasant one to be an ROTC cadet at a major public university. There were the occasional days on which our military studies classes were cut short because of large crowds on the way to demonstrate at the ROTC building, which was the most visible and obvious symbol of the military on campus. I had the uplifting experience while in uniform of being addressed by an otherwise beautiful young woman who spat that I was a "f...in' robot."

Times are different, now. The pendulum has swung away from our people in uniform being hated as a symbol of government militarism and adventurism and toward admiration of those same people as heroes. People put flags in their yards and yellow-ribbon stickers on their cars and stop random servicemen and women in uniform to thank them for their service. As you might suspect, I like it this way better.

Those who serve in uniform make a conscious choice to put their lives on the line, if necessary, in the service of something greater than themselves. Some make the ultimate sacrifice. Others, like myself, put in a full military career without ever hearing a shot fired in anger. But the danger is always there, and when you take the king's shilling, you take your chances.

On this Veterans' Day of 2014, I remember all the great people with whom I served during my 23 years of active duty and those alongside whom I serve today, as well as the service of my father (Army Air Corps in World War II), my brothers Mark (in the Navy) and Paul (in the Army), my son Jason (in the Air Force), and all the rest of those who have answered the call. It can be a wonderful job, a dirty one, and even a fatal one ... but someone has to do it.

Dad, Mark, and I on the Occasion of Mark's Retirement from the Navy

I proudly salute those of you who do.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Linda Kay said...

How about that handsome guy in uniform. May daughter served in Dessert Storm (army nurse), and my son in law was in the Green Zone in Iraq as a surgeon (Army). Both of them joined the military as part of their education, and are very proud of their service and the friends they have made. Thanks for a great post in honor of all the servicemen and women.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Thank you, Bilbo! And thanks to all veterans for being there when our country needed them! Honor Veteran's Day!

Big Sky Heidi said...

Thanks for serving, Bilbo!

Mike said...

Happy Veterans Day.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Happy veterans' Day, Bilbo!

Grand Crapaud said...

Thanks for defending our country, Bilbo!