Thursday, May 22, 2008

Don't Forget to Hug a Veteran...

So, Nuclear Buffalo inspired me. Please read his post.

the weekend's almost here. It's not just another day to get drunk or start the "Summer Season". There's a real reason for it and I hope you hug a veteran (or 2 or more) and thank them for their service to their country.

I don't care what your views are on the war in Iraq. I don't care about your political views. I don't care if you've never had a family member in the military.

I have had a family member fight in every American war/"conflict" since the American Revolution (2 in that one!). The only exceptions are the French and Indian War and Desert Storm. My great grandfather chased Pancho Villa/fought the SpAm War, my grandpa fought in WWII, my father was a Corpsman in Vietnam, my cousin is right now somewhere in the Middle East, pulling terrorists out of their hiding places and interrogating them.

I make it a point to thank every veteran I know on Veteran's Day/Memorial Day, and any day in between that when I discover someone I know served our country in the military.

My dad was a Corpsman (willingly enlisted) in Vietnam. Every Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, he made all of us kids go out to the flag pole in our back yard and while my sister (who hated doing it because it embarrassed her) played the Star Spangled Banner, the rest of us would raise the flag and sing the anthem. Since we lived at a suburban lake outside of Kansas City, there was always an audience. People cruising in boats would sing along, one guy yelled out to my dad "Thank You" one year. Our neighbor, Charlie who served in Korea, would wander over to our yard and usually just watch, pat my dad on the shoulder and go back to barbequeing.

I never really thought about the whole tradition all that much or the look on my dad's face whenever we were at a ball game and the anthem was sung until 9/11.

At the time I worked in the corporate headquarters for a company that gave loans to active duty and retired military servicemen and women. 9/11 was the day after my grandmother died and I wasn't at work that day (I had a really bad cold and found out on 9/11 she had died.) After my grandmother's funeral, I returned to work.

Part of my job as an advertising assistant was to do the media buying for 26 branch offices (located near military bases) and 32 other major installations for our internet site. I started talking to my ad reps (retired military/spouses of military personnel) all over the country and I found out so many heart breaking things.

Whidbey Island/Bremerton, it was almost a ghost town. All the Navy/Marines were immediately called out to sea to guard the coasts. Same is true for Georgia, North Carolina, California, Florida. There was mass panic as family members and service personnel rushed to get "on base" that day. So many people were immediately called to combat duty in Afghanistan. Families were literally pulled apart. But I never heard one single complaint. Not one. They were proud to do what they were trained to do.

My father willingly enlisted to serve in Vietnam. He didn't agree with the war, but he wanted to serve his country like his father and grandfather had done. He didn't want to fight, so he signed up with the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, First Class. After training at Pendleton and serving at Bremerton, he went "over there".

He was the guy who was on the helicopters, dodging bullets, deciding who was able to be saved without making the helicopter too heavy for lift off. He was armed only with a service pistol and was the most unarmed military personnel in the conflict except for the clergy. As an FYI, 638 Hospital Corpsman died in Vietnam.

I'll never know exactly what happened during his time there.....I don't think I want to know. He doesn't talk about it, but I know he was touched when I would bring him the base newspapers from Pendleton and Bremerton. He's a classic case of post-traumatic syndrome. When we were little, and we had to wake up Daddy, our mom told us to stand across the room and shout until he woke up. You couldn't touch him to wake him up because after they were married there were a few nights that my mom was thrown across the room after he was startled awake.

I know he saw things, did things and had to make decisions no 20 yr old Kansas farmboy should have to make, but I'm so damn proud of him for serving, saving lives and keeping America safe.

I work with several vets who have served in Korea up until the Iraq War. I make it a point to hug veterans since I've seen from my father the kind of sacrifice they make. I went up to one last Veteran's Day who had served in Vietnam. I looked him in the eye, gave him a hug and said "Thank You". He was a little taken a back (even though I've thanked him the last 3 yrs running), I could tell it really touched him. Like it always does.

I hate the war in Iraq....but I also know that we're so screwed that if we pull out now, World War III will happen. I also know (as an historian) that you can't win a guerrilla war. But, despite what the media says, we ARE the good guys. We had no other choice but to raid Afghanistan. In Iraq, Saddam was a dirty, filthy bastard of a genocidal dictator that had to come down. Even though the world is upside down in the post-Taliban, post-Saddam world, History/Hindsight offers great redemption.

Pray for peace. Pray for our service personnel. Pray for sanity. Pray we get a better president in November, whoever it may be. History cannot be kind to George W. He's an idiot. Vote for someone with a realistic solution that won't cause chaos.

I'll leave you with Alan of the greatest American Singer/Songwriters. This song is so special to me. I dedicate it not only to my father and every other serviceperson, but to my grandma, Julie, who died the night before 9/11. For me, 9/11 was the day the world stopped turning. I was in shock over her untimely death, and then in shock of the Twin Towers crashing...but that's another blog...


kcmeesha said...

nothing to add to this.

MoxieMamaKC said...

I hope that's a good thing...

kcmeesha said...

Of course I meant it's good. Usually there is nothing to say but Amen, except I don't say that, so I don't say anything.

MoxieMamaKC said...

Rock on, my Jewish brotha, rock on...

Anonymous said...

That's the "I know ... but we ARE the good guys"-US-speech, that nobody in the free world understands.