Friday, November 10, 2006

Remembering Our Veterans

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, and I am at awe at our veterans. Savannah is really close to a couple of Army posts, and so I am sometimes reminded of those currently serving in our military.

I have attached a five-part video series from Mr. Loken, a 94-year-old World War II vet. I do not know the gentleman, but I am constantly amazed at those who have lived such a long life and gone through so much. When I was in elementary school, I remember hearing about a veteran of the Civil War. The oldest living veteran's seem to be from World War I, and of special note is Antonio Pierro, a combat veteran. If course, this centurion is younger than , Emiliano Mercado del Toro, the oldest war veteran – and the second oldest verified human ever. These types of records fascinate me.

But tomorrow is not about growing old, as many war veterans never made it back to the United States. I am just talking about US war veterans because Veteran's Day is a US Holiday – the same sentiments apply to other country's veterans. Other countries have similar days that are celebrated at different times of the year.

About a month ago, I was in a drug store, waiting for the pharmacy tech to fill my prescription, and I noticed a sign, saying something about veterans and active duty personnel perhaps losing some sort of pharmacy benefit. Instead of getting drugs filled at local pharmacies, they will have to get them filled by mail order. Now I don't trust the government to handle my tax refund without problems; how are they going to handle filling millions of prescriptions?

Seems to me that the veterans of this country are sort of getting screwed. I mean, the pay is okay I guess, but you sometimes lay your life on the line for a few bucks, diminishing medical benefits, and a decent retirement. Most of the veterans I have met seem called to some greater good – that it is not all about the money. I just think that we ought to be paying them a bit more, give them decent health care, and not bother them to mail in their prescriptions. Instead, we honor them one day per year. Maybe two days if you count Patriots Day.

I remember talking to one veteran a few years ago. The man was old, but I am not sure how old. He had Parkinson's Disease, and his right arm, hand and leg would shake. His keys would jangle as he shook uncontrollable, talking about his military experience. He was a cook, and I really did not figure out which war he was in. I was embarrassed to ask, as he talked about things that probably should have clued me into the conflict. But his stories were mostly about his buddies, how he had to improvise with everything because the equipment was crappy, that sort of thing. Seems that the US government was skimping back then as well.

I can't imagine having 100 million dollar planes in the air and soldiers not going to Iraq with proper body armor. Just does not make sense to me. So I will be thinking about our war veterans tomorrow. I guess we ought to think of them more often, though. They deserve at least that.


J R Estelle said...

Like the saying goes, it will be a GREAT day when the military has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate those soldiers, ALL of them. My grandfather and father were in the miltary, but the fat cats on the hill get fatter of the backs of those boys. And many of them are quite literally, boys.

Then they get screwed when they get home. Give your life, get a parade, BFD, really.

Tony said...

It wasn't about the money. The pay wasn't that great. Initially it was about the chance to do something positive with my life, then it became about doing something positive for my country...

Prata said...

I refuse military service. I think it's a disservice to people to even go. That's just me. I refuse to go kill people that look just like me, who've done nothing to me. It's just not my thing. Although I'm rather capable although reluctant to kill someone that is attempting to take my life.

My family members have all served in the military and have nothing to show for it but wounds. I'm highly critical of the government, I am not critical of the soldiers (well not the ones that are doing as they are ordered because really that's what you're doing..what you are told because that's what you signed up for) I am critical of soldiers that are doing things they shouldn't be doing, like raping girls and women and shooting people that are not armed in any way.

I have friends in Viet Nam and Korea that have given me rather detailed accounts of things soldiers (not just US soldiers) have done to them. The excuse of, "it's war" just doesn't fly with me.

I've failed to see the positive outcomes for Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Somalia. This is not an insult to any soldiers, as I said I believe soldiers do get the raw end of the deal, they are doing what they are told as is their job and we can not assume that a soldier's morals are the country's morals. Often the soldier's mentality is quite different from the state's mentality. That is the way of the world.

thistle said...

D, a few months ago I ran into a vet at Lowes. He had a cap on that had the name of his aircraft carrier from WW II. It was a famous one that saw a lot of action in the Pacific. I asked him about it and we started a conversation that lasted about an hour -- our wives eventually just walked away and said they'd be back for us later.

He was deservedly proud of his service and I was honored and awed that he would share his experiences with me. As we were finishing up, he told me something that was pretty sad. He said that neither of his grown sons had ever asked him about what he did in the war, and that clearly hurt him. It's too bad -- their old man was a hero among many heroes.


Joe said...

Well said, Leesa.

Leesa said...

j r: I actually knew someone whose father was an arms dealer. He made a VERY nice living.

tony: Yeah, I know it was not about the money. But when families actually hold fundraisers to help with medical bills associated with being damaged in a war, something is wrong.

prata: now men can refuse military service. But that was not always the case.

thistle: sometimes strangers know more about our parents than the children do.

joe: thanks, stranger. I mean, thanks, joe.

GW Mush said...

Henry Kissinger once said that the military personel are idiots to be used as pawns for foreign policy.
This is how our elite politicians think.

Prata said...

You can always refuse. Whether it lands you in jail or on the run, that is a completely different matter. You don't mean to tell me that there were no draft dodgers and/or deserters do you? :-P

Refusal to enter the military is a matter of your desire not to participate in what could be stupidity or servitude within the Establishment. There are acceptable levels of persecution for various people. I would have dodged the draft during Viet Nam, some would call that cowardly; however, I am not a die-hard capitalist and vietnamese people look like me to some degree. I am not going to shoot up a bunch of people defending their land from invaders especially if they look like me. I have a serious problem with that.

mal said...

two of my sibs have done public service. The oldest was 25 years in the Air Force and the other spent 30 as a Fire Fighter. Although neither sought it, both are certified heroes.

Neither of them got rich at what they did. Both of them were frustrated with what seemed unnecessary impediments to the work. Neither of them regret the time spent.

As a nation we are fortunate and hopefully grateful that such people step forward and do what must be done.
I fear for us if our citizens lose their faith.

mal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mal said...

Prata, I had a very good friend who refused the Viet Nam draft. Unlike others, he chose prison as a statement of his conscience rather than Canada.

He has my profound respect. He has my sibs respect for making a stand. No one can ever question his character or his courage

Those who fled to Canada?

Leesa said...

gw mush: and some of us think our politicians are idiots as well. Pawns of their backers, I guess.

prata: my point is that now, since no one has been drafted since the 1970s, you have a choice to serve without fear of undesirable consequences.

mal: I actually think our current generation don't really realize what sacrifices previous generations made.

Prata said...

Those who fled to canada are no less than those that chose to go to prison. Especially if you look at your rights as a human being, not necessarily a citizen of the state.

Those who fled to Canada chose to not have their rights violated by the war machine. In fact..I'm going to blog about this, because my ire has been raised.

richmanwisco said...

thx for the shoutout, this vet appreciates it!