Good Morning Sabre Rattlers,
As usual, our little forum provides an outlet for my on-going therapy and I appreciate your indulgence. As we zero in on another Veterans Day I think it’s important to reflect or at least acknowledge those men and women that paid the ultimate price.
I suppose my commiseration with other veterans is borne out of concern for my Sons having to deal with war. Thankfully they’re both at an age where it’s unlikely. After 65 rotations it became clear my days are truly numbered; finally giving me the perspective I needed. To accept and embrace this eventuality always sounds so obvious and of course we all know we don’t live forever, but rarely do the young think it applies to them. I believe that’s the way it’s supposed to work in a species survival sort of way, the brashness and irreverence youth exhibit toward death tends to work in a curmudgeons favor; particularly when it’s time to go to war!
The fight against worldwide terrorism and the ongoing trouble in the Middle East, combined with exploding martyrs everywhere, will eventually require a greater number of men and women than currently committed to the military.
As with my own youth, I suspect the government will at some point reinstate the draft. My late Father, as with many others during WWII rushed to volunteer, because as history has proved, the fight was just. My own service was far less noble. After receiving my draft notice I essentially had four choices; I could enlist with a four year term, go quietly for the two years and hope for the best, flee to Canada, or go to prison.
I resented my time in and was not a model soldier. When I say I’m a veteran, it only describes a classification and should in no way be confused with my Father’s tour of duty. I personally know men who faced death regularly in Vietnam. I was mostly AWOL or typing morning reports. Rightly so, history has not been kind as to our involvement in Vietnam and has become the antithesis of previous wars. Never-the-less, 58,229 young people gave up their lives for what was ultimately an act of futility. When surviving vets returned, there were no parades or other such acts of recognition usually reserved for heroes, mostly just contempt.
If you’ve never visited the Vietnam War Memorial (The Wall), I highly recommend it. Even if you’ve never served in the military, you can’t prepare for the awestruck spirituality that envelops the place. I’ve visited twice. Both times I’d well up and have to choke back tears. Designed by an undergraduate art student, I’m always amazed at her insight, as she managed to capture the feelings of an entire generation. Whether you were a protester or quietly served because your country asked you to, nobody leaves the wall unaffected. It eloquently reminds us of war’s affinity for death.
Maya Ying Lin’s contest entry, No. 1,026 (out of 1,421) took much criticism, and was referred to by many as a tribute to Jane Fonda. She stuck to her guns though, and I think most would agree now, the criticism was unwarranted. Ms. Lin probably said it best; “For death is, in the end, a personal and private matter, and the area contained with this memorial is a quiet place, meant for personal reflection and private reckoning”.
So if you can’t make it to the wall today, take a couple of minutes to reflect on how good we have it here. The personal freedom we all take for granted has been paid in full by the blood of patriots.