Note: I wrote this about a week ago, because I was inspired to at that time. I'm reposting it in honor of all Veterans for today.
In six days, on 11-11-11, our Nation celebrates Veteran's Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, which celebrated that, at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the Armistice was signed that ended the hostilities of World War One.
Yes, we've allowed some "mission creep" in here. Nowadays, the day doesn't just remember the Armistice which ended the horrors of World War One, the first war fought on a large scale with what we now consider modern weapons; the day now celebrates veterans, period. When I was a young child, a "war baby", it was still Armistice Day, but on October 8th, 1954, President Eisenhower proclaimed that from then on, the day would be celebrated as Veteran's Day. He would have known, having, within that past decade, led troops in yet another World War, and had seen hundreds of thousands of US military killed in action, and many more wounded. We took about a million casualties overall in our successful efforts to defeat the Axis Powers. With the exception of Desert Storm, which had very limited objectives, we haven't had a significant military victory since. This Cold War veteran considers our victory in the Cold War to be an economic one, not a military one.
When our men went overseas to fight the Axis Powers, defeated them utterly, and returned, they were hailed universally as heroes, as all returning warriors should be. Such has not been the case since WW2.
Korean Vets weren't really "welcomed" back, after the diplomatic failure which ended that war, which promptly became known as "the Forgotten War". They just came back and assumed their former places with little fanfare.
Vietnam Vets, such as your writer, were mostly viewed in a negative light upon our return from that war, a view tolerated, and some say, encouraged, by the majority political party of the time, the Democrats. This was mostly due to ineffective wartime leadership from President Johnson, a man with the mistaken belief that his version of liberty (the freedom to spit on returning soldiers) had to supersede the orderly re-integration of the military back into civilian life.
Since 'Nam, the National Leadership has ignored the rule that one can't send troops to fight, fail to lead them to victory, and then expect them to lead happy lives afterward. To this veteran, this is a failure of our society as a whole. The society is in dire straits, having forgotten what it was which made it as great as it once was. Victory in war, not disgrace in war, was an important part of that superlative past.
Let's get to the nut of the problem.
First of all, society fails when it has to go to war in the first instance. War should always be a last resort, and it is always a failure when reasonable people fail to reason and settle their conflicts peacefully AND honorably.
Second, society fails again when, after engaging the failure mode of reason and entering upon war, it completely fails to understand that war is un-natural to humans, and having put a lot of their humans into an un-natural state of mind for so long, it is society's responsibility to ease the stressed minds of returning veterans, not present them with further obstacles in their now-peaceful lives.
A returning warrior is entitled to the respect of those he/she protected, and it is a high moral crime when that respect is not freely and willingly given. I don't know about YOU, my veteran friends, but I feel that at least half of today's "support the troops" message is phony. When I see a car plastered with all sorts of sticker-statements indicating surrender as a way of life (i.e. liberal bumper-stickers), then I also see a "support the troops" yellow ribbon decal, I want to puke.
Here's a short motivational video to keep you in the proper mindset, veterans. H/T to my "padre", every inch a warrior himself, he personifies "praise the Lord and pass the ammunition".
We're still on duty. We're still prepared to fight, and only God can save this Nation if we have to fight again. Pray that day never comes, but prepare for it anyway.