Honoring Our Veterans
Celebrating and honoring those who have served our country should be an every day event rather than an annual remembrance. I am awed and inspired by friends, relatives and fellow citizens who have unselfishly devoted their lives to preserving our nation, its borders, and fostering our way of life. For a child of the 1960’s who feared the draft and abhorred the tragic involvement of the American military in Vietnam, the bravery of those who have volunteered since the abolition of the draft is even more inspiring. These men and women inspire me because they have the bravery, the commitment, the honor, and the willingness to sacrifice that I do not.
As a child of the 60’s I was afraid. At the dawn of the women’s movement there was talk of drafting women to serve. I cowered in my bed at night at the age of 10 or 12 and worried about being drafted. I watched the 6:00pm news with Dan Rather reporting from Saigon about the accumulation of body bags, the demonstrations of young people back home, the vilification of those who protested, and the cowards who fled to Canada to avoid the draft. It was a turbulent time. But through the adverse media coverage, I always knew that a vet deserved my appreciation, thanks, and gratitude.
Since the turbulent 1960’s there have been U.N. peacekeeping missions, the war on terror, and the conflicts in the gulf. Because of the reputation and pervasiveness of the U.S. military I have never felt afraid while traveling overseas or while cosseted safely within our borders. I mourn the loss of every soldier, sailor or airman. I celebrate the reconciliation of military families. I am angered and horrified by the inacceptable pay and benefits of those who serve, the scandals that topple otherwise noble leaders, and am disgusted by the inhumanity and sexism of bullies within the ranks.
But the military is really just a microcosm of the populace. The difference is the stress and responsibility we impose on those who serve. Our service men and women deserve our thanks and we owe them a fair salary, reasonable benefits, top qualify medical and mental health care, support for their families when they are deployed and upon their return, gainful employment when released from the military and an appreciation that they have endured what we do not endure and cannot imagine enduring.
Thank you to all who keep vigilant so that I can sleep in peace.
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