Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day 2007

A blustery Veteran's Day in Yolo County finds many American Flags snapping in the swift North wind. The sky that just a day ago was gray and dark with a soft soaking rain has been replaced by the clear deeper blue of a bright fall day. Puddles are disappearing, the soft ground will soon become firm enough to walk across without leaving footprints and the hawks are out in the fields, soaring aloft and diving down on their prey. November in Yolo County, my favorite time of year.

There are many wonderful stories written today about the debt we owe to those who served, fought and especially to those who gave their lives in the defense of freedom. In wars both here on our soil and in far away lands in places that don't make it into history text books.

As I sit in the quiet warmth of my home today, watching football with my son, I find it so easy to forget that today in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world there are soldiers strapping on their gear, getting their orders from their squad leaders or company commander and heading back out to stand a post or to go out on patrol.

What they would give to be home today with their family enjoying a relaxing day in the familiar comforts they once knew. Reading the blog entries of some on the front lines, I get the feeling that while they would love to see their families and feel the love that comes from being home, I get the feeling they would want to get back to their second family very soon.

The bond between veterans is amazing, forged by common experiences that we as civilians just can't understand. It is both instant and lifelong. I have listened to two veterans talking and as soon as they found out they share a mutual friend, or were stationed at the same backwater base, they instantly connect and those of us who did not serve are left outside of their conversation. And while I cannot feel that same bond with these men and women, my admiration for their service is something I am not sure they can understand. I send care packages and write cards and letters, I also thank any uniformed solider I see. It is the very least I can do, and it does not begin to explain how much I respect and admire these Americans.

I will leave you with a portions of a letter written by a soldier today, Veteran's day 2007.

As the veterans of World War II pass too quickly into history, their ranks are being replaced by a new "greatest generation." The war on terrorism is creating veterans at a rate not seen in decades.

Yet the military is much smaller now than during World War II, leading some analysts to posit that a rift exists between soldiers and citizens and that those making sacrifices on the battle front are disconnected from the society whose freedoms they defend. The American people are oblivious to the war, they claim, as well as to the men and women who are fighting it. Some have even suggested that the only way to close the gap is to return to conscription.

But these observers of the social scene have never served in Iraq.
Those of us overseas know that "support the troops" is more than a slogan. Here we are besieged by what my master sergeant calls "paper love," the cards, letters, posters and other gestures of support sent by people across America.

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