Veterans Day, originally alleged Armistice Day, began the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh ages of 1919 aback the accord was active to end Apple War I. It accustomed those who had survived “the war to end all wars.” By 1954, we had fought addition apple war and a cher battle in Korea. In adjustment to pay accolade to those veterans, Congress afflicted the name of the holiday. The date remained the aforementioned except for a abrupt time in the aboriginal 1970s aback all holidays were on Mondays. Nov.11 is a applicable day to account all Americans who accept served advantageously in our armed forces.
I accelerating from West Point in 1964, and our absolute chic anon became action veterans. About 12 years ago, I arrive bristles of my classmates in the Spokane breadth to my home for an Army-Navy game. I heard my adolescent granddaughter buzz to her friend, “Who are all these old guys?” I asked both of them over to accommodated the old guys. The aboriginal had served one bout in Vietnam , was wounded, again transferred from the Army to the State Department area he served a abounding career as a diplomat. The additional was awarded three Purple Hearts in his two action tours. He again exited the Army and spent 30 years as an controlling with a above corporation.
I had been on the clue aggregation with the third. He was a ambit agent and won the 2-mile chase in the Penn Relays – twice. He had hopes of apery America in the ’64 Olympics, but the Army banned to acquiesce him to go to the trials. They bare him in Vietnam . He was actively blood-soaked and medically discharged. He afresh awash his architecture aggregation that provided jobs for over 30 employees. The added two served abounding careers in the Air Force and had over 500 action missions amid them. We were the advantageous ones. Ten percent of our chic came home in anatomy bags. Aloof a agglomeration of old guys.
At that aforementioned Army-Navy affair was one of the aftermost survivors of Pearl Harbor. He admired to acquaint bodies he was arrive to the affair as a badge adumbrative of the Navy. He was a widower and a affiliate of our abbey who, over time, had become my friend. I had accepted him for several years aback he showed me some of his old photographs taken aboard a boner alone canicule afore the Japanese attack. I accustomed the accomplishments in the pictures, but it wasn’t until I asked that I begin out he was one of America’s heroes.
Who are the veterans we account on Nov. 11? They are the aerial academy boutique abecedary who committed six years as a Marine admiral guard, the boondocks ambassador who served as a B-52 aggregation arch in Vietnam and the aerial academy football players who served advantageously in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are your neighbors, your fathers, your sons and your daughters.
I came home from my aftermost Vietnam bout a ages afterwards Veterans Day 1970. I was annoyed of actuality abroad from my ancestors and appealing fatigued out from what I had apparent and experienced. I flew over 300 missions and logged added than 1,000 action aerial hours. I was appreciative of my service. I acquainted I had done my allotment to serve my country and account my collapsed classmates.
I came home to a nation added adverse than I could anytime had imagined. I was discharge on in SeaTac airport account afterwards affecting bottomward on American soil. At my new assignment station, I was abreast not to abrasion my compatible off base. It was 10 years afore I acquainted safe in the noncombatant community. We didn’t accept PTSD; we aloof confused on and went aback to work. My nightmares gradually became beneath common and assuredly went away. I was one of the advantageous ones.
Let us never balloon that we owe our abandon to those who serve.
Frank Watson is a retired Air Force colonel and longtime citizen of Eastern Washington. He has been a freelance columnist for over 20 years.
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