11 November 2007 by Published in: General musings 5 comments

Today is Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day, in recognition of the armistice that ended World War I. Promptly at the stroke of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns fell silent and the butchery of the Great War, the War to End All Wars, finally came to a close.

There is only one British veteran of World War I remaining, and he is 109 years old. It might be too much to ask or expect that he will see the passage of another Veterans’ Day. However, this morning, I saw film of him greeting and talking to British veterans of Iraq, just home from deployment there. Somehow, it seemed a fitting completion of the circle.

My father is 87. He is a member of what Tom Brokaw has dubbed the Greatest Generation. His peers, friends, and family members went to war to defeat the forces of Fascism. These men and women are dying off at the rate of 1,000 per day, and before long, there won’t be any World War II vets left, either. Similarly, Korean War vets are of the same generation, and usually only a few years younger, as the entire Korean War was fought less than ten years after the end of World War II. Korea is, of course, often called the forgotten war, and for good reason. It was a horrible, grinding war far from home where many Americans died in a proxy war against Communism.

Today, our soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will avoid ranting about the failed policies of the Bush Administration and instead focus on the sacrifices of these good men and women to whom we owe our freedom and to whom we owe our security.

Thank you to all of the veterans for your contributions to making America the country that it is today.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Lee Hodges
    Sun 11th Nov 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Eric,

    Nice post, but it’s not true that there is only one British veteran of WWI left. I think you were referring to Harry Patch, who is 109, and it the last British survivor who fought in the trenches. But there is also Henry Allingham, 111, as well as several other British veterans–both in the UK and Australia–who served in the military during WWI but never saw combat.

    Lee

  2. Mike Nugent
    Mon 12th Nov 2007 at 12:06 pm

    I usually participate in our local Veteran,s Day events but was in Boston over the weekend. Now that my girls are old enough to start to appreciate some of the history they gloss over in school, I took them to a few of the key spots along the “Freedom Trail” that figured in the beginnings of the American Revolution.

    In front of the Old State House we stood for a few moments at the site of the “Boston Masacre” and thought of all the blood spilled since then and the sacrifices of all those who have served in our military.

    Whatever uniform you may have worn, thank you to all our Veterans.

    Mike

  3. Mon 12th Nov 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Lee,

    That’s what they said on TV. I was just repeating what I heard. Sorry if it was wrong, and thanks for the correction.

    Eric

  4. Matt McKeon
    Mon 12th Nov 2007 at 3:53 pm

    My father was drafted in 1951, he ran out of money after his first semester in college, and was working in a shoe factory. The draft board was like the Mafia, he once told me, it was just a matter of time before they got you.
    He trained like a million other guys, saw the army being integrated, was screamed at by his sergeant about the state of his bunk and that he was now, “a killer of men”
    He spent six months in Korea during the war, uncomfortable, but relatively safe, then the rest of the time in Japan on garrison duty. His photographs of 1950s Japan, still battered but recovering are fascinating.
    He returned to the states and was discharged. He never joined the VFW or American Legion, frankly disliked the army, which from the bottom always seemed arbitrary and irrational. He wasn’t heroic, but he didn’t pretend he was either. He was uncomfortable and inconvenienced but, never complained or thought that serving his country was some chore to be left to someone else.

  5. Mon 12th Nov 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Matt,

    And for that, I am extremely grateful. It’s the stories of folks like your father who have made this contry as great as it is.

    Eric

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