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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

In my family, I can trace military service back to WWI on my father's side (with tales of Civil War service not affixed to a particular person as well) and back to the Revolutionary War on my mother's side. I am a piker, having been drafted rather than enlisted but at least I did serve. Ironically, I gave my WWI helmet and gas mask passed down from my grandfather to my brother when I went off to basic training just in case I wound up in Vietnam and dead. He never gave them back, but he did give me my grandpa's shotgun and the .22 rifle we all used to learn to shoot when we were kids. Fair enough.

Some of my relatives were wounded in battle, I know for sure of no family member that died, although it is likely during the Civil War. But many military families have seen family members killed in war.

I am inordinately proud of my service because I did consider running away to Canada like so many of my peers and I am so very, very glad that I did not. I would have been ashamed of myself for the rest of my life and would have missed the chance to serve my country and be part of something special. Here's to all you draftees who answered the call at a time when your peers and the press were telling you that Vietnam was the wrong war.

To the soldier, the duty is to serve and not to determine whether the field of battle was politically correct. All who serve are honorable, both company clerks and drill sergeants, both fighter pilots and tank mechanics, both artillery redeyes and infantry grunts. Thank you, all!


My compatriots in fantasy sports, TheFootballGuys, sent this email out to their subscribers and I want to share it with you:

Joe Bryant & David DoddsOwners -


Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She or he—is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another—or didn’t come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat—but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade—riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket—palsied now and aggravatingly slow—who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being—a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, “THANK YOU.”

Remember November 11th is Veterans Day.

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC