Sunday was Veterans’ Day, a rather under-celebrated holiday. Falling on a weekend this year, it didn’t gain the periphery attention it does during the week when it causes banks to close and mail to stop. Stories and interviews all week on MPR have kept the holiday and the veterans themselves in the forefront of my mind. The lack of attention given to this day is shameful.
I’m not without guilt. When I taught writing, I had a writing assignment for Veterans’ Day. I had my students write a letter to a veteran they knew personally or just to a veteran in general. They were to give the letter to the person they knew, or I would personally deliver the generic ones to the local VFW. When I taught Sunday School, we colored flags and crosses for veterans and hung them on the wall outside the classroom. But now, it goes unmentioned in my classroom, in my entire school in fact. One of the stories from MPR gleaned mention in my lecture yesterday, but only because it was an appropriate example. But the fact that the entire school went without even a say-so is rather surprising.
We say the pledge once a week, Tuesdays as a norm, Thursdays when it was forgotten on Tuesday (yes, this has happened several times). Standing and/or reciting it is an option. An option I agree with, yet I secretly judge my students who don’t stand. I told my husband about this, and he made a wonderful point: the pledge is more than just a sign of respect for our nation (and arguably our government), it is an honor to the thousands, nay millions, of men and women who have fought for this nation in its 231 years. But even with this connection, no mention of Veterans’ Day before or after the pledge this week.
My father was a sergeant in the Army in Vietnam. Both of my grandfathers were sergeants in the Second World War, one in the Army and one in the Navy. My heart runs full of veteran blood. I donate money every few months to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (and not just because they send me return address stickers). I have a nephew in the Navy; a friend in the Marines, and a niece who at 17 just decided to join the Guard. I thank men and women I know have served; really being grateful and proud of them. Unlike my father’s tour of duty, these people are there by choice. Even if they enlisted for the money for college or a reason to get the hell out of here (wherever that may be), they knew there was a possibility they could go to war. THAT is an amazing act of bravery.
I hate this war we’re fighting in Iraq, killing so many people on so many days. I hate the Bush Administration with all of its lies, “compromises”, and ridiculously bad decisions. I hate the idea that people have to fight wars at all…can’t we just all get along? But I love veterans. People willing to risk their lives for others or for a cause are beyond brave, they’re heroes.
Despite that heroism, most people let Sunday slip by without so much as a whisper. If you haven’t lately, thank a veteran. Every day, pray for their safety.