Veteran’s Day

All too often, I am approached by people I don’t know, and they say to me, “Thank you for your service.”  I never really know what to say when I hear that.

Being a Veteran in good standing, gives me the right to claim an ownership stake in the United States of America.  This belief is, I believe, what so many of us miss when we reach middle age, and we look around at our status in the world.  I have known hundreds, if not thousands, of people who wish they had served in the military, and I believe they are missing that deep ownership feeling.  There are other ways to serve our society, our country, and our people.  And it is service to others that is so important to our own well-being.

When I joined the Navy at 17 (during The Vietnam Conflict), our society was much different, and our nation’s opinion of it’s military was also radically different.  I have vivid memories of being taunted, cursed and verbally assaulted on a bus taking me from San Francisco International Airport to Travis AFB, to fly out to my first duty station.  My feeling then, which I remember clearly, was that my own country had no respect for what I was doing, what the military was all about and I felt a real deep sadness.

I am grateful for the awareness of my fellow Americans now about what it means to serve the nation through the military.  We have come a long way in recognizing that our military is usually not at fault when something happens in the world that causes turmoil or problems as the result of military action.  It seems out society now “gets” that the military is run by civilian leaders, that the military is a tool that will do what our civilian masters order us to do.

So, “Thanks” from my neighbors is welcome, and I choose to accept that thanks in the belief that we are actually maturing as a society.  Now, in my mind, the next step is for us to seriously and drastically change how we elect those civilian leaders.

I thank and salute all of my fellow veterans, and all those who have stepped out of themselves, and served others, in any capacity.

Happy Veteran’s Day!