By some miracle, I’m still alive to celebrate again this year. Thank you Gilead Sciences. With Hepatitis C, that which doesn’t kill you nevertheless kicks the shit out of you forever. I think the same applies to VA health care but that is the subject of another blog on another day. Today is a celebration of being alive. Many who served are not. Today is a day for the living and to honor their faithful service. Europeans are free to mope around and put wreaths on graves. That isn’t what this is about. It’s a celebration of the end of a period of man fighting man over politics and religion. Those two subjects are the third rail of civility.
My joy, as it should be, is devoted today to celebrating being alive with all my Veteran friends who are also as lucky. Far too many confuse Memorial Day as part and parcel of this gig. Today, we celebrate the end of a war and, by extension, all Veterans who have served to preserve America and its sovereignty. Some who served in peace feel their service is not as glorious. Hogwash. How many of you signed up on September 1st, 2011 only to shit your pants on the 12th? None, I venture.
Being a Veteran nowadays is becoming more the rare exception rather than the rule. No longer do we have cattle drives to the AFEES station a la draft or due to an attack on us. With the exception of 9/11/2001, things have calmed down somewhat. According to the poohbahs at the VA, there are 20.4 million of us. Given the VA’s inflated self-worth of themselves and their statistical veracity on any subject Veteran, I don’t buy it. Here’s Pew Research’s take on it. I would prefer a Remington Rand Think Tank statistic. They are always willing to spill the beans. Here’s one about AO from the Chinese. They have an excellent field laboratory next door in the DRV. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5126552/pdf/srep38012.pdf
I suppose it’s accurate but the fact remains we are becoming more exclusive than the fabled “Entitled White Misogynist Male” club. In point of fact, the numbers of my fellow Vietnam Veterans-those who actually served on the land mass of the Republic of South Vietnam- continue to decline in astonishing numbers. I personally watch in sorrow as the numbers of those who served there decline. Incredibly, every year I google this question and the number seems stuck at 850,000. Notwithstanding that, I know for a fact 28 of my Brothers-in-arms have departed since 2010. Seems they’d revise the list downward to 849,778 to comprehend the loss. Therein lies the problem. What good are stale statistics? How do you adjust the needs or finances of the VA’s medical system if the number of patients remains static in spite of their known demise? Seems similar to Chicago’s voter rolls last week. I do so wish Roseanne Roseannadanna were still alive to opine on this phenomenon. She always brought an open mind to the table.
Fortunately for us “real” Vietnam Veterans, there are a new cohort of stolen valor pseudovets willing to step in and restore equilibrium. About the only place you don’t see them is at Veterans Day parades. Perhaps that’s why the percieved numbers remain static. The 2010 census was a hoot. The DoD insists to this day that our numbers never exceeded 2.7-3.0 million. In spite of that, the 2010 census declared 9-12 million were absolutely sure they set foot on the easterly portion of the Indochinese peninsula fronting the South China Sea. That’s a extremely large number of delusional thinkers disremembering where they served-assuming, arguendo, that they served at all. The most fascinating thing about this is its recentness. Most of my fellow Vets who served in-country (including me) didn’t come out of the closet until after 2001. It wasn’t fashionable yet. It sure wasn’t something we bragged about or regaled our civilian counterparts with tales of when we arrived home.
I lucked out and arrived at SF International in camo fatigues fresh out of the jungle at 0200 on May 17th, 1972 after two tours back to back. I was greeted warmly by the Hare Krishna swing shift. Who would have thought they man the tambourines 24/7? Many of my friends, like Butch Long, Bob Lockett and Chris Dellinges, were deprived and came in on Medivac flights foregoing any warm welcome from their fellow citizens. I certainly don’t feel slighted in the least for missing out on my Flying Spit Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. I also don’t hold a grudge towards these folks. Everyone is entitled to an opinion in America. From what I can gather, most have issued their politically correct, obligatory mea culpas and now circulate at Veterans Day parades and utter inane phrases like “Welcome Home, sir!” or “May I shake your hand? I’d like to honor you today personally.” Thank you for your service grates on my ears worse than fingernails on a chalkboard now. Somebody ought to point out that’s passé.
To my way of thinking, real Veterans don’t need to seek accolades. We don’t need to wear hats proclaiming our affiliation or bravery. We don’t need free dinners at Applebee’s. We’re smug in that inner satisfaction that we kicked ass and took names when other wimps chose to be all they could be in Canada. We bask in the warmth of a fellow Veteran’s handshake and genuine feelings of camaraderie. We don’t need “stand downs” and handouts. We don’t need quotas or special dispensations for our service. From what I can gather, real combat Vets are not “parade” kinds of guys. We mostly shun being dragged on stages for political purposes by eager politicians wanting to be perceived as “Veterancentric”. Fortunately, I have a great Congressman (Derek Kilmer) who is pro-Vet 24/7/365 rather than motivated on a specific day. His crew is always ready to step in if a problem arises in our district. He is an anomaly in this regard and revels in it. Look at all the congressmen who seek out your votes only to evaporate into thin air a week after an election to become rarer than hen’s teeth. I’m blessed in my little pied-a-terre here at the ass end of Washington (state).
Veterans are the 3%er crowd. We know how rare we are. We don’t need to put on our old uniforms and hang out in airports hoping for praise. We understand the concept of Keeping America Free. We are not inherently racist as we all served in a post-segregation military. We are not weirdo White Supremacist wannabes. We got our yah yahs out in a real military setting-not in psuedo-military organizations that profess hatred.
In a word, we are the perfect, quintessential American. The Citizen Soldier who returns to his plowshare after bearing arms for his Country is one who basks in his mental self-sufficiency and needs no attaboys for his former one-time profession.
Ronald Reagan, a Veteran himself, summed it up best in my mind.
Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder
if they have made a difference in the world.
A Veteran doesn’t have that problem.
Happy Veterans Day to you my Brothers. Live long and prosper.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
The prior president sent his Vice President to lay the Wreath, not about couldn’t be bothered. He was scheduled to speak at the Lincoln National Cemetary in Illinois, until it was cancelled. Instead, he returned to DC and gave his speech at Andrews. Several presidents missed the laying of the wreaths at Arlington, including Reagan, both Bushes, Carter, etc. Clinton never missed. Facts matter. When you talk about ‘couldn’t be bothered’ only our current president fits that description. Our country is now a joke amongst our allies. YES, it matters.
According to several presidential libraries, university databases and the National Archives, several 20th-century presidents — including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon — never visited the Arlington site on Memorial Day.
Herbert Hoover went in 1929, but a sitting U.S. president did not visit Arlington on Memorial Day again until Gerald R. Ford attended the ceremony in 1975.
Ronald Reagan went three times out of his eight years in office, while Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush never went.
This isn’t to say these presidents didn’t do anything to honor the occasion, because they did, but I’m specifically referring to the ceremony at Arlington.
In fact, it seems according to records, the tradition of presidents going to Arlington on Memorial Day didn’t really begin until Bill Clinton was in office.
In 1993, after receiving flak about his lack of military service, Clinton visited Arlington on Memorial Day and continued to go for the next seven years.
Then there’s George W. Bush. Bush did go seven of his eight years in office, but let me also point out that would also mean there was one time he didn’t.
That year George W. Bush spoke at a cemetery in Normandy, where Americans killed during the D-Day invasion and in World War II are buried. Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz laid the wreath in his place.
In 2009, months after Obama took office, he went and laid a wreath.
Here’s where the controversy starts. On Memorial Day 2010, Obama did not go to Arlington. Instead, he was scheduled to deliver a speech to honor fallen soldiers at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois, while Vice President Joe Biden took his place at Arlington. When a thunderstorm in Illinois interrupted Obama’s scheduled event, he returned to Washington to deliver his speech at Andrews Air Force Base instead.. (emphasis added)
Hmm. Seems rain is as poisonous to the sitting President as it was to his predecessor. As for sending someone in his stead. I read that several Generals representing America were present. I would also point out this is a classic example of why we do not entertain politics at this site as it seems to inflame folks’ sensitivities. Likewise, Bush 43 missed one of his eight due to his presence in Normandy for the occasion.
The major point here is Dog and Pony Show antics. No president has ever missed a good photo op that might benefit him-our sitting President included. I consider them all to be scalawags of the highest order. While Obama “couldn’t be bothered” because he was on vacation in Illinois may be a misconstrual of the facts on my part, he realized the faux pas and saved face by returning to Andrews for a post hoc rationalization speech. Similarly,Trump’s helicopter travel was rained out. Nevertheless, the Chief of staff and the Joint Chief of Staff of the military stood in his place. He did give a speech at a different cemetery later the same day. Does that somehow make him more despicable or fit the facts that he “couldn’t be bothered?” Fortunately, we live in America and are allowed to have an unbridled opinion. Unless, of course, we are entitled white males.
RE: the pseudovets. Add the American consumer.
Amazon has thousands of military style fashions for sale. Parka, boots, hats, watches, aviation glasses and jackets…camo fabrics being made into bedding, and so on.
I have to wonder why this “cool factor” doesn’t motivate the youth to sign up and wear the real uniforms. Well, pretending soldier while watching The Dirty Dozen in the recliner is easy and 100% safe. Just pass the popcorn please.
The DoD is sporting a new look on its website. Under Our Story, https://www.defense.gov/Our-Story/, they boast having locations (4,800) in 160 countries.
I’m with Trump when he says richer countries have to pay for the defense we provide them with (like South Korea) but they aren’t going to defend themselves as long as we are doing it.
The other big question is, why are we even stationed in 160 countries? This seems “over the top” even if we didn’t have such ridiculous debt.
Why are we stationed in so many countries? Look back at history for the answer. We are there, not just to protect, but to advise. That’s our history.
Why are we stationed in so many countries? Look back at history for the answer. We are there, not just to protect, but to advise and participate in joint exercises.
I haven’t looked at medal precedence for a long time but the goon in the AF uniform is obviously clueless. Surprised he doesn’t list.
I wish you well.
The Europeans weren’t moping around. They were respecting the fallen, as our President should have done. Remember that we have Sister Veterans, too.
Perhaps they have never set aside a separate day to remember their fallen as we have. Our president has his quirks just as the prior one couldn’t be bothered one year to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier-even on a sunny day. I put no stock in Dog and Pony Shows for the cameras.
As for sister Veterans , I show my highest respect for them by representing them before the VA. My coauthor here is a woman who tries to offer that feminist viewpoint which I cannot. We do what we can, Harry. I’m not perfect as an author nor do I profess to be.