Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers."
José Narosky

Today is Veteran's Day. Not the actual, November 11th day, set aside for remembering all the people who have given up life and limb, and maybe soul, for those of us who stay at home. As with a lot of holidays, Veteran's Day has been relegated to a Monday so working people can sleep in late, play golf or finish the weekend chores they weren't able to accomplish in the regular 48 hours set aside for catch up. I hope that the real purpose of the day does not get lost in all that activity.

America was birthed in war. It's been said freedom isn't free; a good offense is a good defense, or something like that. No matter how you feel about the war in Iraq -or the President and his fighting machine -you've got to give a lot of credit to the people (men and women, young and old, of every color and religion) doing the dirty work.

In my lifetime, there have been other conflicts. All in places too far from my comfortable home to even begin to imagine. Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Grenada, Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan. And let's not forget the "cold" war which is really an oxymoron if you think about it. Or maybe all wars are cold. In order to get the job done, human beings pretty much have to stick their hearts in a deep freeze to harden themselves to the sights and sound and smells around them.

I've been lucky. My granfather and father made it home from WWII, somewhat beat up in body (C.E. Aldrich, USS Yorktown, Battle of Midway), but sporting medals on chests full of military pride. My ex-husband and most of his contemporaries guarded the Mediterranean Sea, not the Gulf of Tonkin. My son and nephews have not seen battle other than 5 o'clock traffic on an LA freeway.

But in about six weeks that's all going to change. The Middle Eastern War is no longer going to be a political question, thousands of miles from home. Before the end of the year, I'm going to be listening to TV news reports with a new ear. Like mothers and fathers and wives and husbands, etc., have been doing since time began, I'll be holding my breath until our soldier comes home.

Though a few have been trained and ready to go, my niece is the first person in our family to go off to war in several years. And what makes it unique, for us, is that she is the first woman to do so. She is also the first mother, leaving behind not only her mother and sisters but her 6 month old daughter. Lauren, whose army job it is to repair missiles, will be driving the truck at the head of a convoy of missile launchers. Yikes!

I don't think there is anything I can say that won't sound political or sexist. The argument for women in combat is long past. The fact is woman are there, living and dying beside their male counterparts. Lauren won't be the first woman to see combat and she won't be the last. Her's won't be the first family to hold their collective breaths until she comes home.

Let's be honest - it's not a male or female question at all. It's a war or no war question. Please don't get me wrong. I come from a long line of patriots. I love my country and believe in its military prowess. I cry at the sight of flag draped caskets. My own national anthem is Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever. A Marine marching band is my idea of pure sex appeal.

But until the people of the world are willing to look one another in the eye and see the face of God, the God of love and brotherhood, there will be families like mine who must suffer the consequences; and if there is such a thing, perhaps we will also reap the rewards.

I close this post with a prayer of:
Gratitude for all those who answer our nation's call.
Courage for the families who wait.
Hope for the children of the world.
Peace. May we know it and share it.

Merry ME

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"
Maya Angelou

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