Facebook, Twitter and other places on the internet have been abuzz all day with senitments of thanks for the service of our veterans. I think that this is apprpopriate. As a veteran, I thank you for saying "thank you".
Today, I am proud of my friends who are veterans. I am proud of my father, his brother, my father in law, my brother, and my young nephew who is crrently serving.
From my own persepctive I have to say that for all of your thanks my knees still hurt, so does my shoulder and my back. So do the injuries of countless other veterans.
You're welcome for (and to) my pain. Really.
While you pat yourself on the back today, feeling good about yourselves for thanking the veterans that you see during the day, remember this:
Thousands of veterans are homeless.
Thousands of veterans need medical care for injuries or wounds that they sustained while serving, and won't get it from Uncle Sam.
On this day, you might want to remember that hundreds of thousands of our veterans were used in atomic experiments. You might also remember that hundreds of thousands of veterans were exposed to chemicals like Agent Orange and other defoliants. You might also remember that hundreds of thousands of veterans were given unproven "anti nerve-gas" drugs while serving in combat zones... or have been exposed to depleted uranium, or have been exposed to nerve agents.
You might want to remember those things... and after you say "Happy Veterans Day" to the veterans that you know... call your Congressional Representatives (blue or red), and tell them that they MUST do a better job of looking after those who gave a piece (or pieces) of themselves IN WAR OR PEACE, to seve our country.
Further, while you offer thanks for our veteran's sacrifice, look inside of yourselves and critically analyze the reasons that we have asked these men and women to risk life and limb for their country. Ask yourself if all of the sacrifices that they have been asked to made were really for your "freedom" Ask yourself if your freedoms would be any different had we, collectively, not sent men and women to die for a particular cause. Ask yourself if the people that represent you/us are faithful stewards of the lives, health and courage of our military men and women.
Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, and Marines, train and prepare to serve our country at the risk of the loss of life and limb. The very least we can do is to be a little more careful with what we do with this gift of service.
Does it sound like I am bitter? Perhaps I am. Sorry if that harshes your mellow.
(This has been re-posted from Veteran's Day 2010, becausw I don't think I can sum up any more eloquently.)