By Clyde Davis: Local columnist
Armistice Day. Veterans’ Day. November 11th, so designated to coincide with the signing of the agreement to end the First World War, the war to end all wars.
This we knew, growing up in the 60’s and 70’s as we did, and I presume before that. It was always a day of no school.
Cynically, WW I was only the war to end all wars until the sons and daughters of those veterans loaded up their own rucksacks to go off to the second World War.
It’s always dangerous to speak for a group, especially when the group numbers millions. Is it safe to say that one vision which drives veterans is the dream of peace ? Is it reasonable to believe that many, in this nation which is founded on citizen/soldiers, don uniforms so their children will not have to?
I once asked my dad why he served in the Navy, and he responded with just that — so that I would not have to be in the military. I did anyway, but by choice, not out of necessity. In that sense, the dream took hold- by my coming of age, there was no longer any need for a draft.
In my family, there was the tradition of the citizen/soldier. This by contrast with some families, where the tradition is the military professional.
There is nothing wrong with either, if you think about it. There are probably far more families where the expectation is, as it was in ours, that you will seriously consider serving a time in uniform, than there are families with a tradition of career soldiers.
Both are veterans. What is a veteran ?
He is that old guy who works as a Wal Mart greeter because it gives him something to do — and who desperately wishes his wife were still alive to comfort him, when the nightmares transport him back to Pork Chop Hill.
She is the nurse with the 1,000-yard stare that comes unannounced, whose grandchildren cannot understand why Grammy won’t discuss Vietnam.
He is the Paris Island drill instructor who has never seen combat, but whose hard-nosed, no-nonsense training has kept alive hundreds of young Marines.
She is the fighter pilot in the desert, who knows with all her heart that her crew has her jet flight ready — but checks it anyway, because she cannot even imagine not returning to her children when deployment is over.
Were there no more dictators, terrorists, or overzealous bigots, there would be no more need for warriors to defend the innocent.
But until that day comes, if you value your freedom, thank a vet.