Thursday, November 11, 2021

On This Day ...

(Source)

On this day, one hundred and three years ago, the guns fell silent on the Western Front. The great slaughter which we know as the First World War came to an end. Only to be followed, twenty-one years later, by another great slaughter - the Second World War. Wars continue, even to this day. No doubt they will never end, not as long as greed and hatred rule our passions.

I do not consider this day a holiday, a "holy day" perhaps, but not in the sense that term is normally used.

I wrote this a couple of years ago -

Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to remember the men and women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. It is also the anniversary of the end of World War I, Armistice Day as it is known in a number of countries, Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth. A day set aside to remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918. One hundred and one years ago this very day.

To put that in perspective, when I was 13 years old, the Civil War had ended 101 years before, as an historian, both those conflicts are ever green in my thoughts. For many though, even the events of September 11, 2001 seem like ancient history. I just don't think we pay nearly enough heed to our forebears, the ones who made our today possible. For many, there were no tomorrows, some gave all of their tomorrows so that we would have today.

My grandfather was a veteran, my father was a veteran, I'm a veteran, my three children are all veterans. Do they, do I, expect some sort of special treatment because of my service? They don't, I don't. We were proud to have served our country in war and in peace. I can't speak for the rest of my family, but for myself it's enough to have served.

I think of the many who supported me while I served. Those who paid their taxes so that I might have the equipment I needed to perform the mission. Those who built that equipment, those who made home such a sweet thing to return to when my service was done, and those who just said, "Thanks" when all was said and done.

I occasionally get thanked for my service, and I really appreciate that, especially when it's from the younger generation. Don't let the media fool you, most of the kids coming out into the world today are hard-working, decent people. Remember the Meejah focuses on the bad ones, not the good ones. Just as bad news leads, so do the bad apples, of which there really are damned few, and those concentrated in just a few places.

My thought for the day, for this day, is that America is a nation worth serving, worth fighting for, and, if need be, worth dying for. America isn't just the land and the waters of the nation, it's primarily her people. Of many different backgrounds, of many different cultures, of many different beliefs, yet we are one people.

Out of many, one. I truly believe that.

God bless the people of the United States and the beautiful land we inhabit. We have our problems, we have our difficulties and disagreements, but at the end of the day, we are all Americans. It was an honor and a privilege to serve this great nation. I would not have traded my days in uniform for anything.

Thank a veteran, yes.

But thank those for whom we served as well. Without the people of this great country, what would have been the point of serving?

I will spend this day, as I do every Veterans Day, remembering those I served with, some of whom have already passed into the mists of time. I will also remember the long line of my brothers and sisters in arms who have so ably served since that April morn in 1775.

Mostly though, I will remember those who didn't come home...

Things have changed over the years, the young forget, the old do not teach them, even if they do, the rancid, stinking powers of this Earth seduce them to forget the past, urge them to think only of today. I cannot.

Also on this day, but "only" twenty-three years ago, I nearly lost my mind.

Tiger

I told that story here, I still remember that day, I will never forget it.

Again, I approach the end of a career, to be followed by retirement for real, then perhaps a slow fade to nothingness, hopefully not for some years. Another death has preceded another career's end, Sasha's passing this past July. While this shook me, Tiger taught me how to handle it. For that I am eternally grateful.

So no, this day is not a holiday.

Today, I remember those who fell.

Today I remember my dead.




48 comments:

  1. A blessed Veteran's Day to you Sarge, and to all those out there following.

    The older post is still relevant, though it seems we are under somewhat more of a cloud these days. Yet there is still hope, there will always be hope. And there will always be those courageous men and women (yes, there really are only two genders) who will stand in the breach, sometimes against all odds, and defend our way of life, and our freedom.

    God Bless America.

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  2. Aye Sarge, a day to remember my dead, thanks for The Last Post. As to that slow fade to nothingness, it's just another phase, like starting your first "real" job except there are a few more perks..sleeping late seems to be one.........:)

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    1. Sleeping late is definitely a perk!

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    2. Just set a schedule in order to keep a concept of what day of the week it is.

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    3. Uh, at that point, who cares what day it is?

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  3. Your post about Tigger is especially helpful for me today. One of the "uniforms" I always wanted and took pride in wearing appears to be ending soon. And I have a hard time with that. But it appears there is nothing I can do about it, but accept it and move on into the new reality.

    Thank you for the most excellent post about 11-11-11. It is a day that means a lot to me as well. My great uncle fought in WW1, my mentor's brother was never the same after being buried alive during a bombardment in WW1. I remember the stories and the old family pictures. I remember my dead as well.... It is a holy day.

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    1. Acceptance and moving on, sometimes that's all you can do.

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  4. I was in Australia on deployment and was able to attend the ANZAC ceremony that is held every year. At the exact time the ANZACs landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, a bugler came out and played that tune. Sent chills down my spine.
    later, I was the commander of troops for a parade to the ANZAC memorial in Gladstone. Had three platoons of Marines marching. a few people were watching us march by but, when we crested the hill and saw the literal thousands of people standing around the memorial...the heels started falling a bit more sharply, the Marines stood up a bit straighter.....it was an amazing thing to be part of.
    Then the party afterwards......old guys wearing medals on their suits drinking it up in the pubs to times and friends long gone. An amazing time.

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    1. Remembering, I guess it's something we old veterans are good at, someone has to remember the fallen.

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  5. Everybody when WW1 gets mentioned - what a tragic war, so many fine empires ruined...
    Poland when WW1 gets mentioned - thank God for that war it ruined all the partitioning Empires.
    11-11 is our Independence Day....

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    1. It just took a few years to really stick, though Poland did a fine job of independence between 1919 and 1939. If only the Russians hadn't been so... Russian.

      Sigh.

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    2. And Germans didnt lapse into worst case of national madness in their history.

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    3. I don't know, Pawel, we seem to be marching ever closer to that goal.

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    4. Paweł - National insanity on a grand scale, and what juvat said.

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    5. juvat - It's frightening and sickening, all at once.

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  6. Freedom, the most expensive drug in the universe. The only way to maintain my supply is to freely give it to others. "Thank you" to my suppliers, and "You're welcome " to those thanking me.

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  7. Company was supposed to be shut down today. Yesterday they came out with a list of essential people who needed to work today to get an order out tomorrow. Everybody on the list is a Vet. Most of us don't mind. Double time and a half before Christmas doesn't hurt.

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    1. We're used to it, I suppose.

      I'll be on the ship today.

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    2. Funny how a lot of times the most essential people are vets. Something one or two sci-fi stories touch upon when every vet gets reactivated. Losing the vets tends to gut a company of competence.

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    3. We tend to be kinda reliable, based on training and motivation.

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  8. Dropped my wife for a early flight at Lindbergh. Then went over to Liberty station. Parked down by the USS Neversail and walked up the boat channel, past Preble field. Good to see lots of folks out this morning among the submariner memorials. Interacted briefly with a Chief and his recruiting team out with a bunch of wannabes for a morning Moto walk.

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  9. So many veterans, so many wars, and so many years thankfully at peace, but preparing for war. We are free because of the service and sacrifice of all of the veterans, no matter if they were at the bloody tip of the spear, or doing their job supporting those who fought.

    Understanding World War 1, and the experiences of veterans (of all services and sides) is made easier if you have seen the superb documentary "They Shall Not Grow Old." If somehow you missed it, track it down.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrabKK9Bhds

    To better understand the ethos of we veterans who have sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, take a few minutes to listen to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur's May 1962 speech to the Corps of Cadets at West Point. Merely reading the text is good, but even more impactful to hear his words as he spoke them. "Duty, Honor, Country" is much more than just the USMA motto, or at least it should be.
    https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/douglasmacarthurthayeraward.html
    John Blackshoe, USN (ret)

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    1. I have watched They Shall Not Grow Old and we actually heard MacArthur's speech at West Point shortly after it was given.

      Inspiring.

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  10. Today is a day that most people just don't understand. Even the kids who've watched "All Quiet on the Western Front." They just aren't taught about the horrors that finally fell silent one day. And the horrors that caused the US to merge all other ends together on this day.

    And the sad thing is, the scars from WWI are still visible in places, and probably will be for another hundred years or more. They're right there for everyone to see, especially those in foreign places that have access to various Earth viewing satellites. Yet WWI slips farther from people's minds.

    But I remember.

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  11. The late Mike Royko of the Chicago Tribune used to put out a good column about Veterans Day, this was the only one I could find after a quick search...
    https://coastalcourier.com/opinion/classic-mike-royko-veterans/

    These days on November 11th I think of the plaque I saw at the WW1 museum in Kansas City, ( I saw this in October 2017). The plaque talks of the "over 300 Doughboys who would die" between the announcement at 0530 and the 1100 end time of the war. Over 300 dead Americans...

    There are over 100,000 American veterans still buried in Europe from going over to fight the Germans in the 20th Century. Since we left troops in Germany after the last time we have not had to do that again.

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    1. Loved Mike Royk0, a great writer and American.

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  12. Not a "holiday" for me. Like you say, more of a holy day. As always, I will forgo all the free restaurant meals and other "perks" today. That is just me and not a judgement of others.

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    1. Like you, I will skip the "free meal" stuff, but I appreciate and will remember the places that cared enough to do it.

      (But, I do use the 10% discounts at Home Depot and Lowes every chance I can!)
      JB

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  13. Thank you, Sarge, for giving me a better perspective on Veterans Day.

    And thank you for your service.

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  14. As always, thanks for a meaningful post on a meaningful day Sarge.

    For myself, I have found the lyrics to Sgt. MacKenzie the most evocative war song.

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  15. @ Ooffee Man/ Did you get a chance to visit that magnificent Art Deco style ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park in Sydney? The Hall of Silence blew me away!--starring down from above on the sculpture Sacrifice which depicts a slain warrior on his back, arms extended on a marble column protruding from a white marble floor. SO sobering! Goggle it!

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    1. Yikes Sarge, *Coffee Man* & *Google* How many typos can a late-to-the-party Blue Four make?

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    2. PPS: A visit to that War Memorial (courtesy of the USAF while on R&R from DaNang) really made a profound impression on me. Easily the most impressive War Memorial I've ever visited. (Plus I'm a sucker for anything Art Deco :) )

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