10 November 2006

A Few Thoughts On VETERANS' DAY...

My father used to take me downtown every year to watch the Veterans' Day parade (yes, we had them way back then) in Philly....and although it was a bit colder to stand along the Ben Franklin Parkway than say...Memorial Day, it was ALWAYS fun to watch soldiers of every service march by, along with military vehicles, flying flags, and an overall sense of REAL patriotism among all in attendance. Dad always packed a thermos of hot chocolate....!

My father NEVER viewed Veterans' Day as a day to go shopping, or watch any sports (and he loved his football). That day was for him to receive THANKS for his time in the military. Mom made his favorite dinner (usually roast beef). It wasn't a day to get falling-down drunk either. He used to talk about his days in the CBI during WW2, and even if I heard the story before, it NEVER got old...there was always something *new* I discovered with every telling of a tale.

If we did go anywhere else, it might be to a cemetary to see a loved one's gravesite, or at least to watch the armed services tend to all the vets' graves by placing flags on them. The VA usually had some memorial service around noontime, complete with color guard and rifle salute. I will say that Veterans' Day in Arlington National Cemetary is really something to see or be a part of, if you ever get the chance.

Somehow, times have changed, as I find this hallowed day brimming with "VETERANS DAY SALES" and pre-Christmas shopping bargains. Now I will be the first one to admit that some places that give veterans additional money off on items is a damn nice way of showing gratitude for service and sacrifice. Still, the commercialism that has infested other major holidays is now closing it's grasp on this special day.

Here's an example of how times have changed:
During WW2, if there was a soldier (any branch of the military) travelling anywhere...they NEVER had to pay for anything, as some citizen would buy them dinner, a drink, or whatever. How many soldiers do we see today that even receive a handshake and a "Well Done" from anyone (aside from immediate family and friends)? I'll wager the number is staggeringly LOW by comparison. How many "strangers" would walk up to a serviceman or woman and offer to buy them dinner (or even a damn hotdog)...JUST BECAUSE they are serving our country?

During 'Nam, we had soldiers returning home being spat upon, called baby-killers just because they were serving in the military.Many of these same servicemen had even served in WW2 and Korea...and that's a far cry from getting a free drink at the local pub, isn't it?

Listen up folks....ANY serviceman or woman, simply because they are NOT fighting an enemy on OUR OWN soil, should NEVER be denegrated or diminished in ANY way....they are STILL fighting for OUR liberties, OUR freedoms, and OUR nation. We in America, far from many madding crowds never fully realize the bigger picture on the GLOBAL arena.

We also have to take care of our vets, and that means keeping the VA facilities OPEN that care for those who no longer can adequately care for themselves. Our nation's vets are not some "disposable commodity" that we use and then discard...oh no. We need not close any hospital that would care for these veterans and provide the services they need...we OWE that much to them.

If anything, we should hold them ALL in a higher esteem...they have kept this nation safe...defended our flag....protected our people. We need not recall every name and face...but we should expect a rememberance of their sacrifices in their service to America...now, and for generations to come.

My flag will be flying on Veterans Day...How about YOURS?


Jana said...

Right now, after reading your post, I am remembering my grandfather who died 4 and a half years ago. He served in the army and was stationed in Alaska during the Korean War.

I am also thinking of my loved ones who are still alive:

I am thinking of my other grandfather, who served in the Korean War in the South Pacific.

I am thinking of my uncle, who served in Vietnam.

I am thinking of my aunt who served in Vietnam.

I am thinking of my father who served in the Gulf War.

I am thinking of my uncle who served in Iraq.

I am thinking of my beloved David, who served in Iraq.

I am also thinking of my friends, those who are serving today, and those who have died in the past for our country.

Thank you Veterans. I love you.

Tim Zank said...

Beautiful sentiment, both of you!
I'm thinking of my dad, marching through the Poe Valley in Italy as an infantryman, carrying ammo cans and a browning ....

He's 81 now and still kickin' ass and takin' names!