Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

This day is always rather painful for me.  My father fought in WWII and his doctors believe his life was shortened by the wounds received in the fields of France.  He was wounded and then suffered from blood loss and exposure for the three days it took our forces to retake the ground where he had fallen.  The soldiers who found him were stunned to find a man alive; they were collecting the dog tags of the dead when they heard him moan.  Those three days must have been a haze of hellish pain and delirium and fear as the battle continued around him.  He survived the war but died at the age of 59 while I was still in my 30s.  He should have lived longer, much longer.

My very first boyfriend died in Vietnam on his 19th birthday and just a few days before he was scheduled to rotate back home.

My oldest son was an officer in the Navy and is still a Lt. Cmdr. in the Navy Reserves.  He served on subs and continues to work on subs even now as a civilian employee of the Navy.  It is unlikely he will be called to serve in a combat zone, but the possibility does exist and is an ugly dread in the back of my mind.

As a pacifist who can think of very few just reasons to go to war, I begrudge every drop of blood spilled to grasp at more territory or more money or more resources.  Protecting one's home and the lives of the innocent make sense to me,  But too many politicians have layered the word "protect" with too many specious reasons during the course of my own lifetime that I am become quite cynical now.  I would argue that the last truly just war we involved ourselves in was WWII:  Hitler was a genocidal monster.  But even WWII was fueled by European boundary disputes and power plays.  I know the claim of genocide could be made about other tyrants with whom we have waged war but on closer examination the real reasons we sent men to die was to secure bases for nuclear weapons outposts or to secure access to petroleum resources or to gain some other such perceived and selfish political advantage.  So very few profit from war and so many vast multitudes suffer from it that common sense should have made the whole notion obsolete long ago.  But human nature being what it is, I expect war will continue to be a problem into my grandchildren's generation and beyond.

So, even as I remember and honor the courage and fortitude and genuine patriotism of individual soldiers, I deplore the culture of militarism and greed and geopolitical maneuvers that exploit those virtue.

For me, Veteran's Day is a day to remember to write a check for a veteran's group, to buy a poppy ... in short, to find a way to support the true heroes/victims: those men and women who served with honor in spite of bad leaders with questionable motives.


Vickie said...

Amen to that Regina! God bless the special men in your life who have served our great nation.

Maggee said...

I remember coming across the poem about Flanders Field after discovering that I actually had ancestors from Flanders (which is no more, as they knew it anyway)--French parts... It was an interesting discovery. I remember my older sister had a boyfriend who went to Vietnam with his buddy that I had a crush on. Boyfriend came back with a limp and a stutter, expecting to find my sister waiting for him. She was married and had her son by then. It was sad. I had to tell him. His friend didn't make it back. That was sad for me, too. Men and their pride! Hugs!

Julie said...

A handsome man in your picture.