Let’s hear it for all the veterans out there! All of them? Sure, let’s not parse out the praise, pick and choose, look for genuine heroes . . . they also serve who only stand and wait, or work in the supply chain somewhere, or drive panel trucks in Las Vegas, Nevada. That last was my job.
Honestly, I was one of the least successful members in the long, distinguished history of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. I completely lacked military bearing, was generally hostile to authority, and totally failed to adjust to military life. I can honestly say, though, that I joined the United States Navy of my own free will during a serious, killing war, the Vietnam War, and that at the end of my service I received an Honorable Discharge with all of the benefits that attach thereto.
I only lasted six months before the Navy asked me nicely if I would mind accepting an Honorable Discharge in return for a promise to leave them alone. I was slightly conflicted: the offer was a good one, and I was happy to leave, but I was a nineteen year old boy and part of me didn’t like the rejection. They let me keep some of the clothes, and made it clear that I had no further duty to report for anything, don’t call us, and we probably won’t call you.
But I did not shirk my duty to my country in its time of need. I joined. I always did my job and stood my watches. So I’m a veteran, a veteran of a foreign war, no less, even though I never made it into the theatre of war. I don’t expect a lot of credit for it, but if anyone were to kindly include me in the general appreciation of veterans on this day I would feel very good about that.
I add my sincere gratitude to anyone who has served in any branch of the military, not only to those who risked their lives at the point of the spear, but also to all of those who helped to hold the spear, who replaced the spear if it were broken, and who helped to transport the spear to the firing line. Thank you.