November 11, 2009
More Veterans Day Thoughts
... not all sacrifices are made on the field of battle. While infantry, armor and artillery are the combat arms - the tip of the spear - they, better than anyone, know how important the team that makes up the rest of the spear are to their success on the battlefield.
Those F-16s don't show up on target at the right time unless that kid flying the boom of a KC10 tanker at 30,000 feet at 2am doesn't do his job. That sabot round from an M1A1 fired at a threatening T72 isn't there unless the truck driver hauling ammo day in and day out gets that ammo where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
Veterans are the guys like the cook who gets up every morning at 3:30 am and begins to prepare breakfast for his guys and gals. The young man below deck on an aircraft carrier who makes sure the F/A 18 he's responsible for maintaining is in perfect shape and ready to fly. The nurse who holds a dying soldier's hand as he takes his last breath, wipes away the tears, straightens her uniform and heads out to do it again.
He's the kid in the fuel soaked coveralls who hasn't slept in 2 days gassing up another Bradley from his fuel tanker before they roll to the final objective. The company clerk who makes sure all of the promotion orders are correct and in on time, or the instructor in basic training who ensures those he trains get his full attention and who puts his all into helping them learn important lessons that will save their lives. He's the recruiter who'd rather be where the action is, but does what is necessary to make sure he gets the best and brightest available for his branch of service. Or the MP at the gate who shows up every day, does her job to the very best of her ability and never complains.
Most vets have never seen combat in the sense we think of it. But every single solitary one of them has contributed in vital ways to the success of our combat efforts and making this the finest military ever. Without those who support the combat troops, success would impossible. Without the wrench turners, truck drivers, fuel handlers, cooks, clerks and all those like them, the greatest military the world has ever seen is an "also ran."
Greyhawk pays tribute to history:
My grandfather (whose grandfather fought for Ohio in the Civil War) was a medic on the battlefields in WWI, the letter reproduced below was to the girl back home who would become his wife.
The Armorer pays tribute:
Today is my day. Today is SWWBO's day. Today is Dusty's day. Today is Bill's day. Neffi's, Bloodspite's, Sanger's, Jim B's, Mike L's, Jim C's, John S', V29's, Sergeant B's, 1SG Keith's, Oldloadr's, 74's, CAPT H's, a certain Canadian Gunner who shall remain nameless, a certain Redleg Captain who shall remain nameless, RetRsvMike's, the 'Phibian's, Lex's, Matty's, Chuck's, Fishmugger, John(NTA), Heartless Libertarian's, Kevin's, Grumpy's, Grimmy's, the list is endless, and I know I didn't list everybody - feel free to add yourself in the comments. That would be a nice touch, actually.
And even though last year it was the Auld Soldier's day... today is the first since 1947 that it *isn't* his day.
fThough it grew from Armistice Day, and is Remembrance Day to our Anglosphere buddies, it is *not* my Grandfather's day. Daddy Jack, a soldier of the Great War, well, his day now is Memorial Day. As is it with his son.
Today we mostly celebrate the living. The brand-new vets in Basic Training through to the survivors. Those who "saw the elephant," as Civil War soldiers were wont to say to those whose service required no similar animal husbandry. We honor the dead in May.
Oh, heck, today we Veterans honor the dead, too. We can't help it. The bonds of combat soldiery are tightest because of those who went with us but didn't come back, they took the low road while we took the high. Most of us have an "absent companion" or four that we drink to, when the time is right. Today it will be right.
... happy birthday, Marine baby Colin Joseph Van De Giesen, born today, Nov. 10, at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, just days after his father, Marine Capt. Kyle Van De Giesen, was laid to rest in the Massachusetts National Cemetery at Bourne. A little joy in a family devastated by wartime loss.
Life goes on, and though we cannot help but mourn those who are no longer with us, we can take comfort in the knowledge that a new generation rises to shoulder the burdens of freedom as their parents are so ably doing now.
We have much to be thankful for on this day. Make sure you take a moment to count your blessings.
Posted by Cassandra at November 11, 2009 12:33 PM
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Fabulous roundup, Cassandra.
I'm actually taking a blog break today, to reflect, but I posted the Veterans 2009 poster at the blog. You've been doing great work. Thank you and all who contribute, in uniform and out.
Posted by: Americaneocon at November 11, 2009 01:08 PM
I tell my friends that as the last of four I have older parents than most. And the fact is, both of them were raised by older than average parents themselves. It has quite a bit to do with how old fashioned I am. So even though Cass is old enough to be an older sister (and no more than that!), it's fairly safe to say, my grandparents were probably older than hers. Case in point, I am the only thirty-something I've ever met who has a WWI vet for a grandfather.
Like Greyhawk, my maternal grandfather served in WWI. He was a Rhode Island Cavalryman who had previously served under Blackjack Pershing chasing Pancho Villa around Mexico. His service in France was by no means exceptional. In fact, his most grievous wound was suffered when he was kicked by a mule. I have very few memories of my grandfather, as he died in the mid to late 70's. But the fact that I can remember him, despite the fact that he was born in the 19th Century is quite remarkable. Clean living I guess.
Today is for him, and my father, a vet of thirty years service combined active and reserves. Both served overseas in time of war and came home to raise families. I have a cousin who is a former marine who fought in the Battle of Fallujah and one other tour in Iraq as well. I have a good friend who is in Afghanistan at this moment. This day is theirs. My own five years of stateside peacetime service really pales in comparison, and I am loathe to take the title "veteran" because of it.
But as McQ reminds us, everyone who stood a watch, everyone who maintained a vehicle, everyone who raised their right hand and swore that oath to defend the Constitution had a part in keeping us all safe. And I would not dare take anything away from anyone else. And finally, although you never took that oath Dear Hostess, don't discount your service either. Your oath was different, but still important. "To love, honor, and cherish" may not be the same as ours... the long lonely watches you stand may be different than ours, but without spouses like you, and my own Lovely Bride, we couldn't have done it. So if I can take some pride in today, I think it's only fair that you do as well. Happy Veterans Day!
Posted by: MikeD at November 11, 2009 02:02 PM
I loved McQs post b/c I think we do tend to overlook the service of those who haven't seen combat. I know that my own dear husband hasn't had to kill anyone and yet he put aside his plans to retire after 9/11 and has considered himself privileged to fill any job that needed doing, even if it hasn't always been terribly glamorous or exciting. Hell, he was supposed to be getting out AGAIN this year. No one could have been more surprised than I when he said he was needed in Afghanistan.
An army travels on its stomach, and for every grunt in the field there are probably 3-5 others who make it possible for him to be there.
I am often troubled, not so much by the attention we give to those who have seen combat but by the dissing and contempt directed at those who haven't. People tend to forget that many of these folks would give anything to be where they are right now.
So don't ever denigrate your own service. Defending America is a team endeavor, and so long as everyone does his or her part (and remembers that every job has to be performed by someone) then no one should take anything but pride in a job well done.
Posted by: Cassandra at November 11, 2009 02:17 PM
Defending America is a team endeavor, and so long as everyone does his or her part (and remembers that every job has to be performed by someone) then no one should take anything but pride in a job well done.
By the same token, just remember that you (and all other military spouses) are part of that team too. Okay?
Posted by: MikeD at November 11, 2009 03:20 PM
My maternal grandfather was also a soldier in the Great War. He enlisted in 1915 when he turned 18, and so was already in the Army when they went "over there". He was in four major battles, according to my mother, as he died of pneumonia +22 years before I was born.
His maternal grandfather was also a veteran of the Grand Army of the Republic, a farmer from Ohio (36 years old when he enlisted in 1861, pretty old!), as was his wife's grandfather. Great-great granpa came home wounded and I don't know if he ever worked again. Except to father my great-grandmother. :)
Today my grandfather and his beloved bride lie together in the same green field as my father, an Army veteran of WWII. He drove trucks (and all sorts of other vehicles) for the Army Corp of Engineers in strange places like the Bougainville (in the Solomons) New Guinea (where he caught Dengue fever and almost died).
My Grandfather's son (my uncle) still lives, and he was a veteran of 3rd Army (touring France with General Patton).
Honor all those who have ever worn our country's colors.
"Oh beautiful for Patriot's dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.."
Their future, our present freedom, was bought and paid for by the sweat and toil and blood of brave patriots who served far from home.
Where do we get such men (and women, too)?
Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 11, 2009 08:14 PM
I think Americans should follow like other nations and pay a bit more respect. I like the idea that Canadians and Brits have by wearing the poppy from Nov 1st through November 11th or at least on Nov 11th. This clearly visible symbol helps provide more of a reminder.
Selling the poppies for whatever a person wants to donate also helps raise funds for Vets and their families.... EXCELLENT IDEA!!
Posted by: joe at November 11, 2009 08:35 PM
I invited one of my friends at work to lunch today to honor his service - he wouldn't let me pay for his lunch, because , he said "I'm not a real Veteran, I didn't serve in combat." I couldn't change his mind, even though I see it differently. For every person in combat, there are so many others making it possible for them to be "up front" it is mind boggling! So, Yes, Ben, you ARE a REAL VETERAN, even though you never fired a shot.
Posted by: Leslie at November 11, 2009 09:02 PM