Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

This year, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the start of the war that culminated in an Armistice signed on November 11, 1918. Thus ended the "War to End All Wars" on the Western front. Why specify that it was only for the Western Front? A few years ago, I transcribed my best friend's grandfather's autobiography which included quite a bit about his Army experiences along the Mexican border in the years before WWI and his experiences in Europe during WWI. Here's a couple of sentences:

After the Armistice was signed, we couldn’t get transferred back to the 18th, no matter how hard we tried. We were given a choice of going in a military police outfit, prisoner-of-war escort company, or the expeditionary force to go to Russia to help the white Russians to fight the Bolshevicks at Vladivostock.
Yes, US troops "intervened" in the Russian Civil War/Revolution. Some things seem to never change.

Since the end of WWI, US troops have participated in numerous activities. I'm not able to quickly find much information about US military actions between WWI and WWII but this bio of Chesty Puller covers a few of the military actions between the wars. After WWII, we have Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I/Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq War. Oh, and the "Cold War" from the 1950s into the 1990s. That's a lot of shooting and a lot of dead and wounded in the 96 years since the end of the War to End All Wars.

I am a Veteran. I served in the US Air Force from 10 December 1976 to 9 September 1982. There were no shooting conflicts during my time in the USAF, thankfully, although I was always reminded of how quickly that could change. Especially during the fifteen months I was stationed at Wurtsmith AFB, MI as a member of the 379th Bombardment Wing.

I have a lot of family members on both sides of the family who have served. US Army, US Air Force, US Navy, and US Marines. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I, and Iraq. I have friends who served as well, some of whom were injured in combat. For all the veterans around the country, there are probably as many reasons for serving as there are veterans. Economics, education, escape from problems or parents, patriotism, and so on. In many parts of the country, the military has been an accepted and respected means of upwards social mobility.

I know that I get uncomfortable when I am told "Thank you for your service." To be honest, I really don't need that thanks. If you want to thank me, make sure you keep the Veterans Administration fully funded. Make sure the VA hospitals are open, fully staffed with competent medical personnel, and quit making "wounded warriors." Quit using people up and throwing them on the street. Quit making things so that organizations such as Final Salute are necessary.

And because I can: