As Veteran's Day 2011 winds down, I wanted to share something that I always think about on this day; something that bothers me about how this day is reflected. I heard a lot of speeches, tributes and toasts over the last few days leading up today, as well as the ceremony I participated in today. There are the pronouncements to "remember the troops" and the folks in Afghanistan and Iraq. The more rhetorically agile may turn a phrase like "all those deployed" or "serving overseas".
Meaning no disrespect to our current Combat Vets, Wounded Warriors, or the Fallen, but this is not exclusively your day. Veteran's Day should also be the day of the ordinary Vet.
These ordinary people don't have some key event, war, or battle to point to when the discussion of their Service comes up. They often don't have common cause with any generation of Service member. They are often people you see in your daily life, but are unaware of their background. Maybe you also know someone like this:
- The High School graduate (or dropout) who, seeking a direction in their life, enlisted for 3,4, or even 5 years. In that time they learned some new skills and gained that direction, moving on to other things.
- The man or woman who, choosing to support the career of their military spouse, decides to forego their own promising advancement to end their Service and "stay home" to raise the kids.
- Those Cold War service personnel, stationed in far flung locations (including those below the waves) waiting for something that didn't happen (thank God). Or were in the unit(s) that didn't go.
- Those who deployed for months at a time but whose mission were not deemed "combat" even though they were in hazardous duty areas and the threat of death still weighed on them. Or those in "combat" designated areas which most Americans are blissfully unaware we even have combat deployments occurring.
- The US Coast Guard - an organization that punches way outside its weight class and is worth way more than what (little) is allocated to it.
- Everyone in the Reserve Components/National Guard. Unsung heroes all.
- The Military Academy or ROTC graduate who did their 'five and fly', or the Soldier/Sailor/Airman/Marine who did their one tour, really didn't like it and left, never looking back.
- The Mom or Dad who smiles shyly when their kids discover their DD 214 and realize that, in a younger day, Mom/Dad was a paratrooper (and cool!) before becoming their parent.
My list above is hardly exhaustive but represents the types of folks who leap forward to my mind on this day.
Every day we should be cognizant of our Combatants, the Combat Vets, Wounded Warriors, the Fallen and the Gold Star families. But once in a while, bear also in mind the ordinary Veterans that served (and serve) in ways that are often unsung but are no less important. Thanks. :)