What follows is my annual Veteran's Day post. While technically off-topic, what these folks have and are willing to sacrifice should never be off-topic from our hearts.
I would also like to thank the Fresno Pagan veterans that I am aware of: WitchDoctorJoe, Chris G and Izzy. I'm sure there are more of you. Also the readers of this blog that have served. Consider yourselves thanked.
Veteran's Day is here. While many of us do not approve of they way our armed forces have been used, I believe it is good to remind ourselves that the armed forces are made up of individuals whom are trying to do the 'right thing'. These men and women serving today are not so different from those that served in the past.
My father's father was stationed in Germany immediately after World War II. They lived near Supreme Allied Command Europe Head Quarters. As young boys they would sneak into the basement of the building (the times were different then) and watch captured German war footage. He once told me that the images he saw were worse than anything shown on television about the holocaust. Right there he said, "Never again."
After high school, he enlisted in the army and after basic was asked if he wanted to volunteer. "For what," he asked. There was no meaningful reply. He said yes and found himself in counter intelligence school. At around the age of twenty, during the height of the cold war, he walked in the streets of Russian cities not knowing a word of the language and accomplished his tasks. I once
asked him how he managed to blend in. He said, "I just kept telling myself I am a Russian. I am a Russian." Alone, he walked through snow covered mountains, was dropped into inhospitable desserts and was once the only agent to get in and out of Romania alive. Unlike many heroes that acted on a spur of the moment impulse, this hero consciously chose each life threatening mission, as every mission was
strictly volunteer. He actively chose to risk his life -- routinely. He didn't do this for the GI Bill, money for college or anything else. He did it because of a boyhood promise. Never again.
People like this never retire until their bodies do. He worked missions long after he left the military for medical reasons. "Never again," he said.
Much later in life he once told me that it wasn't until many years later that he realized all our enemies were 'over here.' My father ascribes to no religion but would and has put his life on the line to make sure that you can practice yours.
So on this Veteran's Day remember my father and the many men and women like him that have served this country for the right reasons, for honorable reasons and because they are heroes. What would the world be like if we were all half as brave?
-- A Proud Son
Take a moment to thank a vet. Those of us who have not put ourselves in harms way can not imagine the sacrifices they have made for us.