Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the freedoms we have in our country, and the role that the millions of veterans living and deceased have played in helping our country throughout its history. I have seen a very large swing in perceptions of our veterans during my lifetime, and knowing the high regard our soldiers get today is a great thing for me.
Day #10 – Honor for those who serve
When I was growing up, America was a bit of a mess: JFK was killed when my older brother was only a few weeks old, RFK and MLK were assassinated when I was only a couple of years old, and when I was in elementary school along with being introduced to Monty Python I watched the Watergate Hearings and the Fall of Saigon on TV, which along with many of my generation forever changed our views of government and the military.
For soldiers returning from Vietnam, there was no hero’s welcome – you were more likely to be treated like Sylvester Stallone early in Rambo … like a drifter, an outcast, an abomination. That image has never fully left my psyche. The draft and mandatory military service ended in 1973, but draft registration was reinitiated as one of the final (desperate) moves by Jimmy Carter in 1980, and remains in place today even in the all-volunteer army.
I am SO HAPPY that today when someone comes home from a deployment they are welcomed, and that it is not out of place for me to see someone in uniform and say ‘thank you for your service’ and while they might be humble, they accept it and it is clearly not the only time they hear it. At many events we celebrate veterans – and last year one of the marching bands used a theme on the 150th anniversary of a Civil War battle in their town as a theme and got a rousing ovation. This celebration of the men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom and right NOT to have to serve? It is an amazing and awesome change in my lifetime.
But I have to be honest with a couple of things:
– The military life has never been something that I have wanted or aspired to … maybe it is residual post-Vietnam cynicism, I don’t know.
– While I definitely applaud our veterans and the military heroes who have been so important to our country … I do not believe that all military members are heroes, nor that the only heroes or people responsible for the growth and greatness of our country.
Bottom line – I am grateful, respectful and fully aware of the sacrifice of the millions of men and women who have enlisted and forever been changed by their time in the military, putting what they saw as the needs of the country first.
What are your thoughts on Veteran’s Day?