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Veterans Day 2014

Veterans Day 2014

Veterans-Day-2014-4From Armistice Day to Veterans Day, we remember those who paid the ultimate price in military service to their country.  We also honor those who served and survived, and include in that the recognition and public support of all those currently serving on Active Duty, plus those in Reserves and in the National Guard, etc.

None of this is difficult for most Americans — we are a militant nation, and we come very close to idolatry with our worship of all things military — at least a large number of Americans do.  They call a “hero” anyone who has ever worn a uniform — a manifestly nonsensical description.

Whether enlisting or responding to the draft, putting on a uniform does not make a hero.  Many heroes never serve in the military at all, and many in uniform never see combat.  Conversely, many are called heroes who are merely time-servers, in to get the benefits, and slackers from the day they get their first haircut.

There was once a small boy, about eight years old, who was walking home from school, when he came upon a crowd on the sidewalk, where a house was on fire, with black smoke billowing up from the back.  Two small children stood just inside the screen door, looking scared.  No one was moving to help them.  The little boy walked up to the door and asked the children to unlock the door.  They said they couldn’t because they weren’t supposed to let anyone in.  He said, “It’s okay.  Your house is on fire and you have to come outside.  Your parents won’t be mad.”  They opened the door and followed him to the safety of the crowd.  The little boy was going to watch the fire, but he heard people whispering, “He’s a hero,” whereupon he went on home, thinking, “What a bunch of cowards.”  He was braver than they were, but he risked nothing in doing what he did, and he was no hero.  He saved lives, possibly, but he was no hero.

A hero is someone who risks their life, or perhaps gives it, in order for others to live or be safe.  He may even risk standing or his wealth, and be a hero.

Those who hold jobs for veterans when it would be easier to just fill their position with the next applicant — that’s an act of heroism in my book.  Those who go to extra links to draw combat veterans into their social circles are sharing the cost of recovery, and that’s commendable.

Our troops have been betrayed by politicians, time and again, and it will ever be thus.  That goes with the territory, and it is no surprise that many combat veterans are bitter — not so much because they were used in an ignoble cause, but because their buddies died for nothing.  This will make you bitter.  Let’s give them a lot of slack when they don’t want to talk about it.

Why are so many veterans committing suicide, or drinking themselves to an early death?  Because the bitterness is combined with the feeling that nobody needs them.  They feel useless and unwanted.

You want to help a veteran this year?  Skip the rah-rah nonsense, and instead, give some creative thought to figuring out how he or she might be able to be involved in helping someone else who is in need, and put them together.  In helping others, many of our own problems recede into insignificance.  There is no better therapy.

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