Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Of course, it used to be called Armistice Day, back when. My family has always served in the military: Mom in the Navy as a Pharmacist's Mate, Dad in the Army in the Quartermaster's Corps, Aunt Nina in the Navy, husband Norm and his brother and his father all in the Air Force during the Vietnam war. Norm's brother is now disabled, from Agent Orange, and wounded by shrapnel. Norm's Dad was air-flighted home after a heart attack in 'Nam. He had already retired from the Air Force after one stint in Vietnam, but a critical shortage of airplane mechanics had them call him back the second time. He died of metastasized skin cancer, Parkinson's disease, and was blind from macular degeneration, all of which were most likely a result of serving in the Air Force, all the toxic solvents, as well as the Agent Orange thing.

So that's two generations pretty fully represented in the military. Time was, when juvenile delinquents were given a choice between jail time or joining the Army, many chose the Army. Of course the Army didn't appreciate being the dumping ground for all sorts of anti-social misfits, sociopathic or psycopathic or whatever. And now there would be some sort of law against compromising their civil rights in such a fashion. Me, I don't have an opinion one way or the other, but it was a fairly successful alternative for immature 'wild' boys who left the service with a different slant on things. Except for Vietnam, where they tended to come home with a drug habit, malaria, PTSD, and in pieces or a box. The year I graduated from high school is the year the draft was done by lottery based on your birth date. Boys born Jan 24th, 1951 like me, were, I think, second in the draft, so a good many enlisted or traveled to Canada. Either way you sliced it, a hard hard road. Bless them all.

I know there is a certain man hereabouts who pretends to be a Vietnam vet "in intelligence", and I'm sure he isn't the only one. If real veterans find out, they can be really nasty to the pretenders, I've heard. Funny (not ha ha) when you think how the returning Vietnam vets were treated when they came home, that now the ones who didn't even share the ordeal pretend to be what they never were.

So a big thank you to all who served, either in combat or support roles, either during a war or in peace, for doing whatever you could to keep us all safe. And if you, the civilian, have never really been cognizant of the roles they played, a short visit to Arlington Cemetery on a quiet sunny day will give you something to contemplate.


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