(Originally posted Tuesday, November 10, 2015)
I’m running without notes, so bear with me… Going to try to “wing it” in order to make sense of my thoughts on this topic.
Tomorrow marks Veterans Day, or otherwise known as “Armistice Day”. The 11th day, of the 11th month, and the end of the First World War – a conflict marked by the emergence of new technology, new tactics, and new horrors of war. The development and refinement of things like submarines, tanks, airplanes, and machineguns owe much to this conflict as this was the War which required a quickened pace of the evolution of machines. Trenches, maneuver, and strategic operations used technology old and new in order to define and shape the battlefield as well as the overall conflict. Most prominent, however, were the additions of chemical warfare, massive artillery barrages, and the beginnings of understanding the “shell shock”, or what we now label “post-traumatic stress disorder” as a result of the human mind’s exposure to its own capacity for enduring and inflicting terrible suffering with the advent of these emerging arms and ideas.
For me, it marks my last flight in 2013. Seventeen years flying, during which I had logged 3,904.9 total flight hours – 1,230 of that taking place over a 36 month period of time in Afghanistan and Iraq. These experiences and training, by my calculations, has a price tag of over $19 million dollars, and the personal toll taken is a list both minor and major. Back… knees… first marriage… mind… mild aversion to tomato-based beverages and liquids… nicotine habit… However, all of this has made me the person I am at the moment and given me the gift of writing, friendships both continuous and sporadic, pride, and the knowledge that I have served when others would not, with some of the best (and worst) of our Nation… regardless of personal reservations or opinions.
Tomorrow is not about my time wearing the uniform, or the combat I have seen, though. It is about a memory of where we are now, those who have sacrificed – regardless of the flag under which they stood – to get us to where we are now, and what we will do now and in the future to ensure that some things aren’t lost.
Their dreams of Nation and right…
What we choose to do on Veterans Day is irrelevant. Free food, discounted services, whatever. What is important is that we never forget or lose sight as to how we choose to take the sacrifice of others, their National ideals, and find our own way to something better.