What Is a Veteran?

I have been answering that question for 73 years. It seems that each November 11 has a different answer.

In 1944, I was a veteran, the wife of a Navy flyer, and a spouse whose husband was deploying for duty in the Pacific. Yes, those feelings of loneliness and panic at that separation were deep; the war in the Pacific was horrifying. Until you have experienced it, deployment is just a word,

In 1950, I was fortunate to have two sons. I prayed that they would never be veterans of a World War or any large conflict. I watched them grow, attend school, play sports and each Veteran’s Day was thankful for Peace. Living through the draft period was hell. Would they be called; would their number be the lottery call?

As the years [assed, I observed November 11 praying for the safety of my brother who served three tours in Korea. I observed the Veteran’s Days during and after the Vietnam War were treated in shameful and degrading ways when they returned home.

Several Veteran’s Days during the Cold War were spent praying that the conflicts would never become “hot.” Each November 11th was different. The speeches continued to remind us about our veterans and their sacrifices, but there were those that were political.

All these years I have watched our veterans squeeze into their military uniforms on November ll, or often admit that they had them made larger. I have watched them be recognized in ceremonies on their day and be promptly forgotten on November 12 as they struggled for health care, benefits and things promised them for their service.

As I have done so many times, this morning I watched the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. How often during the years I have seen the disregard and disrespect for the military; how soon some forget the rows of crosses in places like Arlington and Normandy. I have listened to elites and others claim their superiority; They forget that the military are special and elite; only 27 per cent of the people in our nation are qualified to serve in the military. They forget that those elite volunteers wearing the uniforms of our various branches of the military are those who secure their freedoms and ensure their liberty.

At age96 and a witness to 73 Veteran’s Days, I feel their is more commitment, more understanding, and more willingness to fulfill the promises our nation makes to our veterans. I believe there is more respect for those who serve, those who face the separations, for those whose lives face such uncertainty and disruption.

My granddaughter in Boulder, Colorado called me this morning to thank me for my service. She shared my military experience with friends. She didn’t forget. She shared her pride.

Yes, every November 11 is different on the outside, but it is not different on the inside of the observance. The crosses remain row on row and under each one is a special person who stepped up to wear the uniform, raise his/her right hand and pledge it all. Many more returned home and remain an integral part of the community the

y left, particularly on this day.  

(This was intended for Veteran’s Day. Things don’t always go as planned when you’re 96)

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