51 thoughts on “Veteran’s Day Today

  1. Today I take my dog to the vet for some shots. My vet is also a war vet (Iraq the first). I have been trying for years to come up with something funny to say to her, and all you offer is “hey thanks”?

    Fine then, I’ll settle for nice.

  2. Not only Veteran’s Day, but also my grandfather’s 90th birthday, and he’s a veteran of WWII, having been stationed in China as ground support for the Flying Tigers. I think; I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know if that’s correct, or any details. I shall have to remedy my lack of knowledge when I see him at Thanksgiving.

  3. Today and EVERYDAY……

    What would be more important for today’s generation is to remember everyday, not just on one day set aside. Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

    I remember my Grandfather and my Father-in-law who came home, and my Uncles who did not. I remember my friends who continue to serve with the Canadian Armed Forces in an attempt to bring peace. I remember all of our brothers and sisters in arms, serving everywhere and hope that one day they will all be returned safely home.

  4. In the U.S. our vets don’t ask for much. For most of them, whether they’ve deployed overseas for war, or are retirees who served out their 20+ years, it was a job to do. And someone had to do it. They’re quietly proud of their service, and we as U.S. citizens should be loudly proud of them for serving.

    If you know a vet, send them a thank you. Or shake their hand. Let them know that you acknowledge what they have done. Your efforts will be vastly appreciated. Especially since over the last 8 years there are certain segments of our populace who have tried to take out their frustations with the politicians, on the soldiery.

    It’s been my privelege as an Army Reservist to rub shoulders with some of the finest human beings I have ever met. Not a vet myself — I’m on my second enlistment, but have not deployed — I am honored to serve with many who are, and it’s awe-inspiring to know these men and women. The things they have seen and done, are sometimes not pretty. But as the saying goes, we who sleep soundly in our beds at night, do so because these men and women stand ready, 24/7, every day of every year.

    United States Army
    United States Marine Corps
    United States Air Force
    United States Navy
    United States Coast Guard

  5. My pet project would be for every veteran to have today off, regardless of their job. Not make too big a deal out of it: if you’re usually off on Saturday and/or Sunday and it falls on Saturday or Sunday, so be it; you’re off anyway. But for all the talk we like to slather around about how much we cherish our veterans, and since it’s clear we’re not serious enough to provide decent veterans’ hospitals, I don’t think the economy would be driven into bankruptcy if we got the day off.

  6. In the commonwealth we call it Remembrance Day. When I was in the Canadian Military (go ahead and make your jokes now), we would parade with Legionaires (Veterans) and hold a ceremony at a cenotaph at exactly 11am. Afterward the Legionaires would take us back to their legion and over lots of booze, we would share stories of military hijinks throughout the ages. We would drink ALL DAY and by last call we usually ended downtown at some pub/bar/club – our best dress uniforms in some form of disarray.

    Actually… come to think of it. I’m not really sure why it’s called Remembrance Day. I could hardly remember a thing afterwards.

  7. Had a nice conversation on the train coming into work this morning with an Army officer heading for our parade. He’d been in Afghanistan twice and expected to go back after the first of the year.

    He’s born and raised in Georgia, but is a country boy, and even after tours in Afghanistan, was a little suspicious of “The MARTA” system as it was his first time riding with us. Confessed he doesn’t get into the big city much. He was pretty amused by it all.

    We made sure he got off at the proper stop for the parade staging area, wished him and his family a good holiday season and him a safe tour in the spring.

    We’ll watch the parade from our office on the 33rd floor overlooking Centennial Park…bird’s eye view of all the festivities honoring our veteran here in Atlanta.

  8. I caught the UK ceremony on TV this morning.

    It was moving especially with the three veterans of the Great War front and center. I was surprised there were any left, but the youngest was 108.

  9. While I love the idea of giving us vets the day off today, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that I’m actually very happy to be able to come to work today. (If you don’t understand why, think about it for a moment.) Anyway, ‘thank you for the thank you’ … now I’ve got my own veterans to go thank.

  10. Sub-Odeon @ 4: Especially since over the last 8 years there are certain segments of our populace who have tried to take out their frustations with the politicians, on the soldiery.

    I agree with most of your post, but I strongly disagree with you on this point. Not only have I not seen anyone (from either side) taking it out on the armed forces, I’ve seen nothing but support for the troops all around. If you really want to argue about who does or doesn’t ‘support the troops’ we could certainly talk about which party actually worked to get body armor and armor-plated humvees to the troops and which party said it would cost too much. But I would prefer to have that discussion some other day.

  11. I second Dana’s idea – why should the Post Awful and banks be the only ones who get the day off? Only veterans should get the day off (unless it happens to fall on your regular day off) and let the rest of us work for them for a change.

    Thank you, veterans for your service.
    And thank you, John for the soap box.

  12. There’s a story that my dad (born 1938) tells me about his uncle Edgar, who was in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI.

    If this is too long or otherwise unsuitable, delete away.

    ———–

    “When I was growing up in the Orillia area, one of the people I knew was my grandfather’s younger brother Edgar Reynolds. Edgar was a pillar of the community and a local businessman. He went to church every Sunday and was a member of the local service groups. Looking at him, you’d never know that he’d killed hundreds when he was a young man. But he had.

    “Edgar joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force when it went to France in the Great War. There was plenty of reason to go: the years before the war were hard times and jobs were difficult to find. The army offered a job, good pay and medical care.

    “Edgar became a machine gunner in the trenches. The machine guns of the time were huge things weighing 50-75 pounds and requiring a crew of at least two people. You’d pull the trigger and it would spray bullets in one direction. To change aim, you’d tap the barrel with a hammer, then start shooting again. The guns were water-cooled, and when they’d been firing a while, great plumes of steam would rise off of them– without water, the barrels would quickly become red-hot. The sound of the gun firing was incredibly loud– when all machine guns on the front were firing, and all of the artillery on both sides of the line were going off, the din was earth-shattering and the ground would literally shake.

    “German tactical doctrine in the first few years of WW I taught that any territory lost in an attack had to be re-taken as quickly as possible. So after the Allies attacked and gained a few hundred yards, the Germans would counterattack. Edgar’s job was to start shooting and keep shooting. Years later, he told me how horrible it had been. “They would come towards us. We’d mow them down, and they would keep coming. They shouldn’t have come, but they did.”

    “Edgar was caught in a gas attack and wasn’t able to get his gas mask on in time– whether because he’d lost it, or the filter wasn’t working, or for some other reason I don’t know. He was invalided back behind the lines and eventually wound up on a hospital ship in a French harbour. Unfortunately, a German U-boat sneaked into the harbour and torpedoed the ship.

    “When a ship was torpedoed, sometimes it would go down almost immediately; other times, the damage would be relatively minor and the ship could be repaired. This was somewhere between the two extremes– the ship didn’t break up right away, but it began to settle quickly in the water. Everybody who was able to get up and walk out of the ship survived. People who couldn’t– those with leg or abdominal wounds, or the unconscious, drowned. There wasn’t time to rescue them.

    “Edgar’s health was poor for the rest of his life. The gas he’d inhaled had damaged his lungs pretty badly, and he wasn’t able to do anything requiring physical exertion again. He wound up running a hotel in the Orillia area. He died in the early 1950s, his life marked forever by the war.”

  13. As the only military slacker in my family, I thank my mother (WWII nurse), my father (WWII medic) and my brother (Vietnam grunt) as well as all the others who opted to serve their country.

  14. We’re celebrating Veterans’ Day a week late this year. Veterans’ Day is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November… because, ultimately, that’s what we put our butts on the line for. And remember: The operative word in “cold war” is not “cold” — there were lots of casualties, many by what would otherwise be called “enemy action.”

    Thus, only about 62% of the American public honored veterans this year. Nothing personal, but if you didn’t vote (and you were eligible to do so), your thanks today are nothing personal.

  15. John H,
    There’s a lot of good talk about taking care of the troops, and a lot of people have donated a lot of money to help returning veterans with serious injuries and PTSD issues. Unfortunately, the people most responsible for their plight, the Federal Government, has been woefully negligent. Their speeches are nice, but when soldiers and Marines have to armor their own Humvees and their parents send them body armor for Christmas and birthday gifts, the “support” is lip service.

    No one should have been surprised by the situation at Walter Reed; the hospitals under the auspices of the Department of Veterans Affairs have pretty much always been a disgrace. Charitable contributions should be to provide extra comfort to the wounded and their families, not to provide required care. For all the talk about supporting American heroes, few have neglected their obligations to the military like the current administration.

  16. John H @ #11,

    Since I’ve been back in Utah I’ve not experienced any negativity on account of being Army Reserve.

    When I lived and worked in the Seattle area, I did.

    I used to work on First Hill, and time permitting, I took classes at Seattle Central Community College down the sreet, via my Reserve Tuition Assistance and G.I. Bill.

    SCCC… Whoa, talk about people who cut their military noses off to spite their political faces.

    I got called a killer in class, someone else called me a rapist (in the wake of Abu Graihb) and the SCCC students and faculty liked to harass and chase off Army recruiters, throwing water bottles and destroying recruiting literature.

    The unfortunate truth is that we still have people in the U.S. who wrongly hold the military responsible for the political decisions being made in congress, the senate, and the White House.

    There is also a subset of this group which just flat out does not like anyone who wears a uniform. Bottom line. They’d sooner spit in your eye than shake your hand.

    It has nothing to do with which political ‘side’ did more to get deployed forces the proper equipment, and everything to do with a bunch of wannabe political agitators acting like assholes.

  17. Sub-Odeon, you should move to San Francisco. I’m not going to claim that we have a super special track record of taking care of our veterans, but you’d be pleasantly surprised at how much support there is for veterans here. Even raving anti-war types are generally of the opinion that it’s not the soldiers who decide where and when we make war.

  18. I’m a Veteran, Gulf War in “91, and I appreciate all the thoughts here and elsewhere, but…

    You already thanked me on November 4th

    I mentioned this in another thread but I served my country to protect the freedoms in this country, including the right to vote.

    My service is validated everytime someone stands in line and exercises this ultimate example of freedom. I don’t care if it’s for President or for dog catcher, if you vote, you thank me everytime. The turn out last Tuesday was as big of a round of thanks that I could ever wish for.

    Thanks right back to all of you who voted.

    Jeff S. ET1 USN (ret)

  19. Mythago,

    For the most part, I think those who have opposed Bush, Rumsfeld, etc, have not taken it out on the troops. And this is to their credit.

    Alas, in Seattle anyway, there were (are?) a handful of numbskulls who thought it was fun political sport to pick on uniformed personnel.

    In a word: uncool!

  20. As career Army, I can say from experience that it is very moving to be thanked personally. A handshake and a “thank you for your service” go a long way indeed. It is actually humbling, and I never feel particularly worthy. Given the tremendous sacrifices that I have seen others make, my own bit is actually pretty small. Still, if you are wondering if a “thanks” will be appreciated, I’d say yes.

    In honor of our Canadian Veterans,

    “In Flander’s Fields” by John McRae:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

  21. I imagine some of you have already received an email detailing how Sears treats those who serve in the armed forces. This info is confirmed by both Snopes and Sears. I received this as a forward from an in-law and am pleased to cut and paste the info here:

    How does Sears treat its employees who are called up for military duty?
    By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more.. Usually, people take a pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up.

    Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years.

    Sears would be a great place to start your Christmas shopping. I know I needed this reminder since Sears isn’t always my first choice. Amazing when you think of how long the war has lasted and they haven’t withdrawn from their commitment. Could we each buy at least one thing at Sears this year?

    I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves.

  22. Oops- forgot to include quotation marks around the last four paragraphs- only the words in the first paragraph are mine.

  23. Phiala @ 2: May I also suggest you try taking a tape-recorder to Thanksgiving, to see if you can get your grandfather to record something about his WWII service in China? Not only are those stories being lost, but that’s one of the almost “forgotten” theaters of the war. If he’s up to it (and you are), you might even consider sending his memories to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress: Veterans History Project.

  24. Mary Frances,

    Good point. Also, you might be rewarded with an incredible story. I was talking to a man of about that age and asked him about his service. Turned out he was in the Bataan Death March, then taken by open boat across the ocean, (dodging US bombs!) to Japan. The boat was worse than the march, according to him. Ultimately he was liberated after the war.

    Another told me a story of how he got a Silver Star in Korea by staying behind as rear guard in a artillary position that was overrun. He was mortared, thrown into the river, stepped over and left for dead by the enemy, fished out down river, resumed his post, and was only relieved when his wounds had him so weak he was about to shell his own troops.

    Also, consider doing the same for someone who stayed behind. My mom-in-law lied about her age, lied about her ability to type, lied her way onto a bus to Galveston, and ended up in the communication pool for the first year of the war. Just some incredible stuff.

  25. Sub-Odeon: My apologies for reading more into your earlier statement. As a Democrat (and Gulf War vet) I tend to get a bit defensive when I hear about how ‘some people’ (code word for Democrats) don’t ‘support the troops’ (code word for support Bush’s folly in Iraq).

    My memories of Seattle are a bit fonder than yours, but it was less rancorous back then. The worst thing I remember was with the gangbangers in Tacoma.

  26. I can’t be a military man (religious objections, never mind the -6 diopter correction and general physical incompetence), and won’t; but fully respect those who can, and especially those who do. Both my Grandfathers, about half my high school friends (not that there were many), and several I have met or worked with since. Of course, many of those have been the staunchest in telling me what I know:

    War is a brutal, nasty, *evil* thing, even for a good cause and on the “right” side. It may be necessary, and it may be right, but that doesn’t change the above.

    Which, of course, only makes the sacrifices of those who have gone to war for our country – and in many ways, defined our country on the world stage; and the sacrifices of those who are or were prepared to go to war for our country but have not, or not yet, that much more important, and important to recognize.

    And in an hour or so, the hammering of the keyboard will go silent. Little though it is, it is what I can, and must, do.

  27. My thanks to all those vets before me, my brothers and sisters -at-arms of every branch, and those who followed us, today and in the future.

    “You’re welcome; it was an honor and a privilege” to those thanking me.

    (There’s a disgusting pile of steaming all-party blame that can be heaped on politicians and their care — or lack thereof — of veterans. Some other thread.)

    Semper Fi !

  28. Thanks to all the vets out there. I happen to be one to and I have to wonder…Why are most of us working today? Shouldn’t it be a manditory holiday for the actual vets?

  29. Mary Beth @ 22

    Thanks for the info. This will change my x-mas shopping patterns (what little is doable) this year.

    Having worked with various architectural and structural firms the last 26 years, I have to admit it came as a bit of a suprise that people were talking about veterans not getting the day off. Don’t know if it is due to G.I. Bill influence or chance or what but all of these firms, even the international one, automaticly provided the veterans with a paid day off. It didn’t seem to worry the bean-counters any and I see no reason not to extend the courtesy to all.

    Note – another veterans issue in need of investigation:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×4422355

    http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/national/2008/10/31/military-veterans-benefit-claims-records-wrongly-headed-for-va-shredders.html

    While the administration is trying to paint this as “just a few bad apples/mistakes” the pervasiveness and past evidence points at a long standing problem in need of strong corective measures.

  30. #30 – Justin: Well, as I said above, I’m happy to be able to work! That and I’m a consultant, I don’t get holiday pay (or vaction, or sick time, etc.) So I absolutely could take today off, but if I don’t work, I don’t get paid!

  31. Just wanted to post this. My husband is a disabled vet, and was just diagnosed 4 years ago. We have during that time had nothing but excellent care from our VA support office and hospital. I tend to suspect that the quality varies within the local administrations, and is not necessarily a problem throughout the VA system.

    Do thank a vet. It means so much to so many of them.

  32. Dave Robinson @9 – I too saw the UK ceremony at the Cenotaph on TV. Harry Patch, the middle chap of the three WWI veterans, is 110, and the only remaining Brit to have fought in the trenches (as one of a 5-man Lewis machine-gun team). His autobiography is “The Last Fighting Tommy” and worth reading. He was 100 before he spoke about the war… unlike many of his contemporaries, who enthusiastically mobbed recruiting stations to join up, he didn’t want to go, and waited until he was told to. He still thinks the Great War wasn’t worth one life.

    ObSF: like Arthur C Clarke Patch is from Somerset (and still lives here), but he had already been badly wounded on the Western Front and was out of the war by the time Sir Arthur was born in December 1917. Amazing he is still here.

  33. John H,

    No worries. Thanks for all you did in Gulf War I.

    On the matter of lost service stories…

    I always wish I’d have found out more about the service of my grandmother’s brother, who was a tanker(?) in World War II.

  34. Nicholas Waller@35

    Thanks for the information on Harry Patch. My grandfather was in the trenches and my uncle in the BEF.

  35. I thank all my vet friends individually, to the extent possible, on this day. But for all you veterans here who I don’t know: thank you. Thank you for your service, and for being patient with the civilian population when we don’t understand what you’ve been through, and when some of us are jackholes like the ones Sub-Odeon describes.

    Your service is, in fact, part of the reason I vote in every election (I missed a couple of school board elections recently, but that’s it): not specifically to honor you, but because I know that voting is a privilege gained at cost, and if I’m not paying the cost the very least I can do is my own duty as a citizen. I will also criticize the government (yes, even the Obama government), which is also a duty and a privilege of citizens, bought with the sacrifice of “rough men” (and women).

    I honor you in words, and back that up by doing my part to make sure goverment by, of, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth…though as a civilian, my primary focus is on domestic enemies, while yours is/has been/was primarily on foreign ones.

    Profound thanks. This may be the only day I say it, but it’s far from the only time I think of and appreciate your service, and what precious freedoms it buys for me.

    Ashman 1: I think coming up with a joke about your vet vet is like joking about someone’s name. If you can think of it, they’ve heard it enough to be sick of it. Best to stifle the perfectly understandable urge. I know it hurts, but it’s the least we can do.

    Sub-Odeon 20: Alas, in Seattle anyway, there were (are?) a handful of numbskulls who thought it was fun political sport to pick on uniformed personnel.

    I’d find it hard not to punch them. The numbskulls, I mean.

  36. I never met either of my grandfathers; my mother’s father was wounded somewhere in the trenches, my father’s father was a Quaker and a conscientious objector who was jailed in Wormwood Scrubs for a time. My father – born in the same week as Sir Arthur – was not religious, and though he wasn’t at all keen on war in principle he felt Hitler was too big a menace, so he joined up – first the Somerset Light Infantry, later the RAF. He (and my uncles) wrote a formal letter explaining their decision to their mother.

    Some idea of the slaughter of young men in WWI – my father’s father had four sisters, none of whom ever married; they were the archetypal spinster great-aunts of the 20thC, of marrying age as the carnage was going on. It’s worth remembering the likes of them as well as the dead, wounded, widowed and orphaned.

  37. @Dana

    I’d sure appreciate a day off. Doubt it would ever happen, we’re lucky they print up posters for us at the office. Then we get to spend the day in meetings; everyone “thanks” us for our service and assigns additional task items.

  38. Xopher: “I’d find it hard not to punch them. The numbskulls, I mean.”

    It’s like none of those kids recall any of their history at all.

  39. Xopher,

    More than a few of us wanted to crack heads, but we knew it would be wrong, and would only get us in trouble, so most of us just kept quiet and tried to go about our business.

    Me? I took issue with a particular anti-military pole-posterer (whom I shall not name here) and began a counter-poster campaign. We went back and forth for a few months, before Seattle City asked us to take all our posters down and keep the poles along Broadway clean.

    I complied, and still have the worn-down putty knife to prove it.

    My foe fled the city — under threat of a penalty suit — then he fled the state, and is now hiding out somewhere beyond asscrackistan.

    That counter-poster campaign was fun actually, due to the large number of people who came out of anonymity to shake my hand and thank me — many of them prior service. The ROTC cadets at Seattle University were especially appreciative.

    Military service is not for everyone. But it sucks when those who choose not to serve, not only look down on or make fun of those who do, but then take it one step further and become deliberately insulting, inflammatory, and confrontational.

  40. As a personal preference, I generally don’t like to be thanked for my service. I served for over two decades because that is who I am, and I loved it – even the parts I hated. I’ve been retired for over a year now, and I truly miss it, miss my teammates, miss the action, miss the danger. I don’t need to be thanked for that. But I do understand why some folks find it necessary to thank vets for their service. Sincere gratitude I will accept as graciously as I’m able, but it’s the other kind, the automatic monotone thankwewferurservice when they see my ID that I can’t stand. Personally, people can keep that shit to themselves. I hate seeing military service reduced to some McHaveANiceDay platitude and a yellow ribbon magnet.

    When it comes to gratitude, I’m with ET1@19, you already thanked us on Nov 4th (at least for Americans anyway). Revel in your freedom, cherish your liberty, never give up your rights, exercise your franchise, live and let live – that’s how you honor our service.

  41. America’s oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 100th year is former enlisted Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, USN (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, “The Day of Infamy”, Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

    ‘Navy Centenarian Sailor’, 103 year old, former enlisted Aviation Chief Radioman (ACRM, Combat Aircrewman), later wartime commissioned Chief Warrant Officer Julio ‘Jay’ Ereneta, U. S. Navy (Ret.) is a thirty year career veteran of World War One and World War Two. He first flew aircrewman in August 1922; flew rearseat radioman/gunner in the 1920s/1930s air squadrons of the Navy’s first aircraft carriers, USS LANGLEY (CV-1) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2).

    Visit my photo album tribute to these veteran shipmates:

    http://news.webshots.com/album/141695570BONFYl

    http://news.webshots.com/album/123286873BFAAiq

    San Diego, California

  42. Yesterday was the 233rd birthday of the Marine Corps and Saturday night I attended the U. of Washington NROTC unit’s birthday celebration. As the Oldest Marine (groan) i got the first bite of cake but the youngest Marine was a young female midshipman who was a sophomore and still just barely 18 years old – bright as the dickens and so eager.

    I appreciate the thanks I receive and I am wearing my Veteran’s Day “Never Forgotten” USMC t-shirt from Sgt. Grit but I will tell you that I considered the 27 years I spent in uniform an enormous privilege and it is immensely comforting to see the quality of the young men and women who have voluntarily taken the oath to be the veterans of tomorrow.

    A special thanks to the family of COL John Ripley, a Marine’s Marine.

    Old Jarhead

  43. Jarhead at 49: Semper Fi, brother.

    The Marines in my small town gathered and had a dinner in a friend’s restaurant last night. We boasted that we’d drink and party until midnight. The youngest Marine was me (age 43) and, true to form, we all called it a night a 8:30. The motivation factor is not what is once was.

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