Memorial Day...when we watch fast cars and have barbecues, picnic and play, shop for cars or just laze. Oh, yeah, that "Veteran" thing. Thanks, pass the mustard and relish.
Today, we are accustomed to good people publicly thanking Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and Air Force personnel for their service to our country. Budweiser even made a stunning TV commercial of people in an airline terminal applauding returning soldiers. And we ought to cheer for and thank them. Even those who don't understand what is going on usually continue being polite.
I returned from the Far East in 1970 as the Viet Nam War was winding down. Being somewhat insulated we didn't know the reason we were told, when we left Fort Lewis, Washington, to wear civilian clothes. It became readily apparent when we saw how uniformed military were treated by their fellow countrymen. They were called "baby killer" and "murderer", and worse...and they were spat upon.
Three types of people served then:
Enlistees, who made the choice to join the military and chose to serve their country.
Draftees, who were told, "you will serve your country", and the vast majority did because it was an obligation they had to fulfill. They served honorably.
Some of us Volunteered for the Draft. Sort of like, "I ain't got the guts to join but I don't want to be drafted". I would have been drafted. My draft number came up when I was in Basic Training at Fort Ord, California.
Thirty Eight years later, I cry as I write this. I cry because of the utter sadness and hurt I have because of the way Americans treated Americans. And nobody ever spit at me or called me anything! I was simply, ignored.
There is no forgiving our treatment. Forgiveness is impossible because there is no remorse and nothing has been done to atone. A politician apologizing is just words at a photo-op. That is why the pop-psych
attitude of "forgiveness" will never work. You can't forgive someone who doesn't want it, and who still believe that they were right and proper in the way they treated us.
I finally found acceptance and some peace in an unusual place. Thirteen thousand of us were in an arena when the speaker asked all of us who had served in the Army, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy to stand. We were applauded for our service. For a minute. Two minutes. Three. For around five minutes this group of people, clapping, cheering, stomping their feet, thanked us. Most of us, from the newest to the oldest, grizzled veteran stood there, washed in acceptance, appreciation and love, and we cried. Quixtar was Amway then, but nothing has changed, because the people are still the same. Accepting.
I was stationed in Korea. Hundreds of thousands of us were in non-combat service, as has always been the case. No matter how unimportant our job, every one of us did something important because all of us are part of the ever continuing job thrust on America by history, to protect freedom.
As the butcher, baker, janitor, plumber, carpenter, trucker, teacher, cop, fireman, doctor and nurse...all of us are a part of what makes America work; part of what makes America the land of opportunity to the world; the shining city on a hill, and the great hope of mankind. The land of unlimited opportunity for anybody to become their best!
None of us should ever treat any of us like we are the enemy.
Memorial Day, 2008.
Concord, CaliforniaLarry's Comment: Since the Jeep had its origins in the military, this website is proud to honor those who served; those who are currently serving; and, those who will serve.
Michael, thank you for reminding us of the sacrifices men and women (like you) have made for our great country. You are indeed a patriot and greatly appreciated.