Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you, vets

I observed on a panel at World Fantasy Con that society creates a group of people to do the jobs normal folks don't want to do and arguably shouldn't have to do. The ability to avoid those jobs is, in fact, part of the fabric of society that lets people stay normal. Cops and firefighters are in that group.

Veterans are most definitely in that group.

I don't always agree with where we send our soldiers. I thought the Viet Nam war was senseless when it was going on, and I still think so. I don't believe we should have gone to war in Iraq.

I don't, though, blame the troops. They're men and women who served their nation the way they were brought up to believe was right, and they gave a great deal in that service; in far too many cases, they gave everything.

You can't ask for a better non-bloody representation of how crappy life as a soldier can be during war time than this photo at the bottom of this page on David Drake's site. Yes, that's a remarkably skinny Dave in Viet Nam on shit-burning detail.

Dave is my friend, and though he was lucky enough to survive the war, he still carries it with him every day. He always will.

My stepfather, Ed, went ashore at Okinawa. The pieces of shrapnel in his body were setting off metal detectors five decades later, but he'd tell you that was no big deal. If you listened closely and waited a long time, you could learn that he meant it, because those pieces of metal were far lighter and less troublesome burdens than the memories he also carried.

These and many other vets have touched my life personally. I owe them and all the other vets my gratitude. We all do. Today, let's be sure to pause for a moment and say, thank you.

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