First draft. I go back and forth between present and past tense. Need to fix that, I think.
It’s Veterans Day. Flags are flying. Veterans get discounts. Federal holiday. One of the few to fall on the original date designated by Congress. Too important to be moved to a Monday. Teenage boys and girls, grown men and women, signing up to serve out country. Enlisting. Drafted. Admitted to one of the prestigious military higher educational institutions. Admired, scorned. Heroes. Survivors, Injured. Scarred. Healed.
How far would you go to protect your loved ones? How far would you go to protect your way of life? How far would you go to protect people you’ve never met? How far would you go to enforce your principles? How far would you go? Physicallly and mentally. How far? How far did many of them go?
Who has the right to judge why some choose to serve? Who has the right to judge those who choose to be passive?
Wars aren’t started by the troops. Wars aren;’t started by the sons and daughters trained to kill, trained to serve, trained to protect. Wars are started by government officials, elected and unelected. It’s the troops, it’s the veterans it’s the citizens who pay the price.
Battles are won and lost. Lives are lost, changed, saved. Troops come home. Men and women, no longer boys and girls.
Discounts and parades. Insults and praise. Life moved on while they were gone. Lovers stayed, lovers left. Children were born. Children grew.
Men and women in the country’s service, growing in ways many at home can’t understand. Don’t want to understand. Or understand because they were there once.
Pity, empathy, resentment. Flags on poles and caskets. Pledges and anthems at sporting events. Not only on Veterans Day.
Once upon a time, the veteran was a child, a student, eager to serve. Some went because they felt a calling. Some went because it was the only place to go. Some went to see the world. Some went to learn a skill. Some went to belong. Some went to escape. Once out, they all have the same label, veteran. Honorable or dishonorable, they are a veteran.
Armistice Day, a day meant for reflecting and gratitude. A day for thanksgiving and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.
November 11, 1918, the date fighting ceased in the war to end all wars. The First World War. Unfortunately, not the last.
In 1954, two wars later, the name was changed to honor all veterans regardless of the war.
Parades, flags, and discounts. Uniforms and medals. It’s Veterans Day. The day everyone is expected to remember those who served. Even if some of those who fought would rather forget.