Thursday, November 11, 2010

A few thoughts on Veterans Day

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, an armistice brought an end to the heavy fighting of the war to end all wars, World War I.

Would that it had been the last, but of course, many wars have followed it.

Today, we celebrated Veterans Day, though few people seem to remember that once it was Armistice Day, and few with whom I spoke today bothered to note the holiday.

I always note it, because though I never served in the military, many people I care about did. I'm going to focus on two.

One is my friend, Dave. He served in Viet Nam, and it messed him up. It still does. You can read his take on it here. He didn't believe in this war, but he did what he felt was his duty as a citizen. He paid a huge price. He still does.

The other is my stepfather, Edmund D. Livingston, Sr. Eddie died on July 19, 2000, while on vacation at the beach with all of us. He was a Marine in World War II. The day he died, he visited a Marine Corps base and an old battleship. In the war, he went ashore at Okinawa. He was wounded twice, but thanks to paperwork mess-ups, he received only one Purple Heart--a fact that angers me to this day. He was part of the occupation of Japan. The shrapnel he carried would still sometimes set off metal detectors over fifty years after he left the Marines. Ed paid hugely and many times for his service, but he wouldn't have dreamed of not serving when his country called.

Neither Dave nor Ed is the type of person who would seek a doctor's diagnosis, but I'd be stunned if PTSD didn't afflict them both. PTSD is a bitch; I know.

On this holiday, I don't want us just to thank the vets we know, or to think of those now gone. I want us to help those vets among us. I want all of us and our government to fully and openly acknowledge the traumas they endured and allocate enough funds to help them make it back to our world. (For a longer take on this topic, check out Aaron Sorkin's piece here.) It's not enough to say "thank you" to those who do the jobs most of us never want to touch; we must show that gratitude by welcoming them into the world they protected and helping them feel, after and despite all they've endured, that they finally once again belong.

4 comments:

John Lambshead said...

My father officially died in the 1990s but, in many ways, he did not survive Anzio.

J. Griffin Barber said...

Well said.

Mark said...

I'm very sorry, John.

Thanks, Griffin.

Mark said...

I'm very sorry, John.

Thanks, Griffin.

Labels

Blog Archive