Veterans Day 2018

militaryI have never served in the U.S. military.   In the late sixties, when young men my age were staring the draft in the eye … with horrible images of the Vietnam War staring back at us from our TVs every night … I was working for a defense company that designed equipment for the Navy’s submarines, at that time considered a major deterrent against attack by Russian submarines.   I filed for a deferment with the support of my employer who was willing to state that my work was critical to national security and … four defermonths later … I received a letter stating that my request had been denied.  I was officially draftable.  Recently married and not wanting to spend two years of my life in the jungles of Vietnam, I applied and was accepted to the Air Force Officer Candidate School.  A few days before I was ready to accept my commission, I got a second letter saying my deferment had been granted.

Fifty years later, I rarely recall my almost-call to military service.   After all, I wasn’t a draft dodger.  I didn’t run off to Canada.  My government agreed that what I was doing as a civilian was more important than being a soldier.  But on two holidays a year … Veterans Day and Memorial Day  …  I join the chorus of citizens thanking those who have served and those who have died during their service.   My thanks are genuine but tinged with a sense of gratitude that I didn’t have to and guilt that I didn’t.  I know from other articles on the internet that I am not alone.

In an article in The Federalist titled 3 Reasons to Stop Thanking Me for My Military Service, Stanton S. Coerr, former marine says: Thanking veterans for their service is like flying the flag in front of your house or going to confession: (it) lets you off the hook for what you have—or haven’t—done.  Every time I am thanked for my service, he continues, I stop myself from asking, “And what about yours?” I do not want you to also serve the military, but I do want you to serve our country, your city, your town, the local school. What are you doing to help? Are you volunteering at the hospital? The soup kitchen? Are you helping that elementary-school teacher in the inner city, the one who is buying her students pencils from her own pocket because the school district cannot? Are you donating to the fire department down the street?

I’m not suggesting we don’t Say Thank You to veterans, I’m asking that we Do Thank You.  According to Five-Thirty-Eight, 7.3 percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives — 1.4 percent of all female Americans have ever served in the armed services, compared to 13.4 percent of all male Americans.  With so many who have not served, wouldn’t a better way to say thanks be to turn any sense of guilt for not serving into an inventory of what we’ve done for our country and our fellow Americans this year?  Then dedicate ourselves to doing more in the next year for the country they served?  Think about it.

Oh, yes.  Thank you for your service, veterans.






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One Comment on “Veterans Day 2018”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    Well said OE. There is all kinds of service, and it is all honorable.

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