The Texture Of Things

Veteran’s Day

November 11th, 2007

I’m not going to tell you to go hug a vet today, because I think most veterans would be creeped out by strangers coming up and touching them, unsolicited. But I will say this:

Whatever your opinion on current events and politics, the men and women who serve our country in the military do the hardest thing anyone could be asked to do. Their reasons for volunteering are as many and as varied as there are people in the service. My brother joined the Navy because he had failed out of school too many times and there was no more money to try college again. In the Navy, he could get some education and earn GI Bill money. He could straighten himself out and maybe get out of our impossibly small town. He joined because he wanted to set a good example for me, eight years younger. He told me he didn’t want me to screw up in school like he had. He wanted to earn money to help our mom with bills, to help her save money for my schooling, to help her keep her head above water so she wouldn’t feel like she needed to get married again just to make ends meet. He did it for us.

And it worked, but not how he meant it to. After the training accident that killed him, his life insurance money paid for my undergraduate degree. With that degree, I’ve been able to make a life, a pretty darn good one, without having to join up myself.

So when we civilians are blabbing back and forth from the safety of our local coffee shop about what we think our government should do, we would do well to remember what those service-men and -women voluntarily gave up, namely the right to say, “No, boss, I’m not doing that because it’s dangerous and I disagree with it.”

We might also do well to remember those whose service was compelled and be grateful that the draft is no longer active, in part because there are enough volunteers, whatever their reasons for signing up.


  1. coffeypot says

    Well said!

    November 11th, 2007 | #

  2. KLee says

    I’m sorry to hear about your brother. It’s never easy to lose a family member, but to something so mercurial as an “accident”…you’re left with the feeling of unfinished business. So much left unsaid.

    I know your brother would be proud of you, and he’d be glad that you finished your education. I’m sorry that that to happen due to your losing him, though.

    I know what you mean about the troops. I often say that I’m against the war, but for the troops, because I live in a military town, and I see first-hand how deployment affects the families and communities. There are plenty of soldiers I know who do not care for our reasons for being “over there”, but are determined to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

    Thanks for reminding me that the people are the important part of that puzzle, not the politics.

    November 11th, 2007 | #

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