Veteran’s Day 11/11/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Before proceeding any further, let me open up by thanking our veterans, each and every one.  Veteran’s day is one of three holidays to celebrate those how have or had served.  Armed Forces Day is meant to celebrate those who are currently serving.  With the final end of Afghanistan and having a president skilled and intelligent enough to keep us out of a shooting war in the Ukraine, I do not believe that America is currently in a shooting conflict anywhere in the world, for the first time in decades.  We still have bases around the world and are poised and ready in regions of high stress such as Korea, Taiwan and, yes, the Ukraine ready to join the fight should the need arise.  Memorial Day on the other hand, is designated to remember those Americans who fell while serving in the military.  With a long and bloody history in involvement in wars, far too man of which were not even ours, we have many fallen soldiers to remember and thank.

Veteran’s Day is specifically meant to thank those who have served and returned, but it’s impossible to remember this group of Veterans without thinking of those currently serving and those who have not returned.  What’s more, it’s important to recall that even those who have returned often have their own wounds, some physical, and some emotional with which to contend.  But even without such wounds, our veterans are always changed by their experience, and the families suffer as well as they worry about their loved ones, where they are and where they may be sent as they serve.  In fact, I almost feel as if we should have a celebration for the loved ones of veterans as well.  One of the casualties of serving that is often not discussed, in fact, are the casualties in marriages and relationships that fail because of military service.  This can be because the veterans who return are not the civilians who left, or because of the stress on the relationship while serving, or other issues as well.  These are the quiet military losses.

Ordinarily at this point I would go on to discuss perhaps statistics, or stories to try to punctuate the difficulties and significance of serving.  Too often our involvement in military operations is unjust, which is something that we often do not like discussing or acknowledging.  During these operations, though, our military did exactly what was needed.  They followed orders and served as best they could which is what makes the American military the best in the history of the world.  Our failures belong on the shoulders of our politicians who got us involved when we should not have been, while the veterans should always be celebrated.

Sadly, a friend of mine recently told me a rather upsetting bit of news from family members who served.  As sad as it is that there have been times (such as veterans returning from Korea and Vietnam) when citizens turned against our military, apparently there are now veterans judging each other.  According to my friend, veterans are beginning to ask, “in which war did you serve?” to other veterans at events and celebrations of veterans.  The story she tells is that if a veteran does not serve in a shooting war, then other veterans look down on them. 

This is very sad.  In reality, anybody who has ever served signed up, or were drafted, did so without knowing if they would be put in harm’s way or not.  I’m kind of ashamed that I never did serve, but had I signed up, the most I could have faced would have been the Falkland Islands.  It was a rare, protracted time of peace where the worst war was the Cold War.  My friend Mitch did join the Air Force, and he did so without knowing if a military conflict would flare up, or how he would be asked to serve if it had.  It’s truly unfair to treat veterans who were not in a shooting war as second-class citizens.  Even the National Guard, for example, were called out in Iraq, proof that there is no branch of the military free from surprise or danger.  I will never forget the hand-drawn sign in a US military truck in Iraq that read, “One weekend a month my ass.”  Everyone who signs up, in any branch, could have been put in harms way at any time.  For this reason, every veteran, regardless of duty or branch, deserves our thanks and admiration. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.