Friday, November 11, 2011

 “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”
Dwight David Eisenhower

11.11.11: Veterans Day in The United States.
To be true to the day's origin we can add another 11 to signify the eleventh hour.  So now we have  We humans like repeating numbers and ascribe all sorts of meaning to them.  I'm not too sure if there is any significance other than that; we like to see  repeating numbers and make up meaning to them.

We also like to say that we prefer peace and  or peaceful coexistence, but all of human behavior, history belies the fact.  We are a warring species.  We give meaning to arbitrary repeating numbers and we come up with repeating reasons of justification for going to war; Period!
A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Did you know that in the year 1111 the crusaders and the Seljuk Turks fought the drawn battle of Shaizar in Syria?

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1962, before I was old enough to be drafted, not because I wanted to go to war, but rather because I'd been a lackadaisical student in high school and thereby denied myself access to any institutions of higher learning.  Of course there was the added romanticism of glory bestowed by association; wearing of the sailor's uniform, in my thoughts, portrayed heroism, patriotism and love of country, a way to feel as well as look important.  A young man in uniform in those days was looked upon with respect for nothing more than wearing the uniform.  War was the farthest thing from my mind.  Oh sure, I was aware that as a service member I could be called upon to do my duty and defend my country but we were at peace, so what were the chances? the risk was slight.  Enlist, learn a skill, get out honorably and get a job, a wife, a bungalow, have kids and raise a family and live happily ever after, that was my plan, my dream.

But war came as it inevitably does and again I volunteered.  Now that was purely for the romantic ideal I'd witnessed innumerous times in the movies with the likes of Audie Murphy, John Wayne and such.  I'm fairly certain that I would have completed my enlistment in the safety of a stateside assignment had I not volunteered to participate in the escalating conflict beginning in Vietnam.  Add to that the prestige associated with serving with the  U.S. Marine Corps as a Navy hospital corpsman.  That alone raised the bar.  Man am I something or what?  A Navy corpsman serving with the ever prestigious Marines ( you know, the same Marines that raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi) helping save the world from the spread of communism.  I'll be revered in my community back home if not the entire country and be the envy of all my friends.
Getting shot by a stranger erases any thoughts of idealism.  A gunshot turns a dreamer into a pragmatist instantly.
Many Americans throughout history enlisted, volunteered, in time of conflict and war for altruistic reasons and a willingness to sacrifice life and limb for the cause and I admire them for that.  I was not one of them.  I do believe that a little romanticism entered into their decisions and, as well,  it must be recognized how  peer pressure effects enlistments in time of war.
Have you read Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage?"

I'm a veteran; I went to war, took the metal and got my medals, came home to respect if not acclaim.  No one thanked me for my service but nobody called me baby killer either.  I came out no less the dreamer I'd always been but a man of greater worldliness and maturity; the understanding of war; it's reasons and it's face-to-facedness.
We veterans fight and fought or were willing too for reasons good and bad, but for reasons that we thought were preserving the American way : the freedoms granted by our Constitution, and the principles set forth in our Declaration of independence. 
We fought so other Americans could burn the American flag, or occupy wall street.  We stuck our chins out to give you the right to denigrate us without repercussion.  So whether you like us, respect us or not; a 'thank you' is greatly appreciated. 


Blogger PEA said...

A simple "thank you" just doesn't seem to be enough for all the sacrifices you and the other servicemen gave so that we could be "free". I can't even imagine what you went through but I do understand why so many of you came away from the wars having matured beyond your years. A heartfelt THANK YOU, Rel, straight from the heart. xox

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray went into the Marines in early 63. He admired the Corps and wanted to prove he could do it by chosing a branch different than his brothers. He did not go to Viet Nam, although he was willing had he been asked. To this day he's proud of being a Marine but feels he missed something by not serving overseas. No matter how one served it was still important and I thank each and every one of you soldiers. Freedom is something we can take for granted but we should be thankful every day for our military for protecting our country and preserving our freedom no matter where they serve. Thanks Guys for a job well-done!!

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dad, that was awesome. You move me to a few tears. Well written. I love you.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

Thank you, Rel. I enjoy all my freedoms and I thank you for protecting them.

4:52 PM  

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