Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Veteran's Day

I just came back from beers with my Friday buddies. I toasted Ben (who is a Marine) and others who served in the Army. One of my drinking friends served in Vietnam. Another of my friend's was lucky enough to not get his number called.

I want to remember today all of my relatives who are veterans: My father (Vietnam), My Uncle (Purple Heart, Vietnam), My Dad's Father (WWII), and my Mom's Father (Purple Heart-WWII). I also want to note that all of them were drafted, with the exception of my father, who had an obligation to serve since he paid for Medical School with an Army scholarship.

What really struck me today is how different all discussions of War and Veterans are when you factor a draft into it. If you were to ask any of these men what they thought of war, you would not get a romantic picture; you would get a rather complicated, painful, heroic, and wistful story.

I was also raised by all of them to pray and work for peace. My Mom's Dad, for example, lost his arm, was shot through his leg, and his stomach. Those wounds healed much better than the emotional scars that he was left with for the rest of his life.

He raised me to honor those who had to fight. He also taught me what heroism is--living with unbelievable scars from bloody conflicts. My grandfather was involved in the Normandy beach invasion; he was in the infantry. What he saw that day, very few of us can imagine.

UPDATE: Hey look, the President decided to take a page from the College Republican's playbook and exploit Veteran's day for partisan politics too. Lovely. My Dad used to always say to me: "never argue from a position of weakeness, always from a position of strength." I interpret this latest speech as a sign of the President's weakness. Shame on you too Mr. President for exploiting this non-partisan, National holiday.