It is one thing to believe in sacrifices, it is quite another to live with them. In the sixties, we didn’t get that and when guys came home from the Vietnam War, we ignored them or yelled at them. We wanted to make them feel ashamed for fighting what we perceived as an illegal war. It was illegal, but that wasn’t the fault of the soldiers or us, the government will forever carry the responsibility. It took me and many others a long time to get it.
My ah-ha moment was on a date. He was a Vietnam veteran. He was the only military person I ever dated. We were watching China Beach. I always watched China Beach. He asked me if I would let him tell me about his experience in Vietnam. No, was what I wanted to say, But, something made me say Ok. Not enthusiastic, but I committed myself and I sat and listened. I will not repeat his experiences out of respect for him. Three hours, many tears and a bit of shock later I wished I didn’t know. He had never told his story before but it was his truth. It was not a pretty story, but it was reality and I suddenly realized that not supporting the veterans accomplished nothing. The government was the villain and we had missed the point.
I have been to the Vietnam War Memorial erected in Washington, D.C. I ran my finger tips over the thousands of names etched into the stone. There were memorials and small tokens everywhere. A mom was holding a little boy who was touching a name and she was talking, I assume, about that soldier.
The Iraqi war was illegal. He lied to America and took advantage of the fear that spread through America after we were attacked on 9-11. There were no weapons of mass destruction and we sent so many of our youth to fight in Iraq. One young man was close to me and he was injured. The Army couldn’t actually find him for awhile. He was in Germany and he was having his hand treated.
Now, I look around at the severity of injuries that our young men and women have suffered and I am sickened. Why do we always resort to violence and war? We don’t need to. We need to show compassion, acceptance, gratitude, love, kindness. War never fixes anything. It just increases the level of violence. This violence is causing severe head injuries, the loss of arms and / or legs. The loss of dreams and abilities. Severe mental issues such as PTSD and many other mental problems.
Wounded Warrior Project and the other groups working to assist veterans and their families are doing important work. So today is Veteran’s Day and I want to say thank you to all vets, male and female. Though I continue to wish that there would be an end to war, thank you for what you have given to America and those of us who live here. Your bravery is an amazing thing to see.
Someday, I hope we will no longer need these terrible sacrifices on the part of our young people, our future. One day there will not be wars. Diplomacy will reign and calm, logical and rational thinking will replace greed and power hungry people.
So, veterans, Thank you for your sacrifices. I am sorry you had to sacrifice all that you did.