Remembering Those Who Served

On the World War Two monument, Washington DC

In 1918, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour, an armistice went into effect for the Great War, the first step to end “The war to end all wars.”  In 1919, the United States began celebrating Armistice Day on November 11.  But this was not the end of war but the first of two World Wars, followed by Korea; Vietnam; the Cold War (for which there are veterans but no medals nor recognition); conflicts in Grenada, Lebanon, and Panama ; the Gulf War; the current war of Global Terrorism (Afghanistan and Iraq).  Today is not just a federal holiday, a day off for school children and government employees.  Today we remember those who have served in the armed forces during these wars and conflicts.

The world has been shaped by the United States’ involvement abroad.  No matter how you feel about our participation in some of these wars or conflicts, you have to admire the patriotism of those who joined the military.  These men and women valued our freedom enough to risk their own lives.  They deserve gratitude and recognition.  And we need to recognize everyone who served, especially those who served during the Cold War, a stealth conflict that permeated our everyday lives, affecting politics and technology.  Yet we do not recognize the men and women who served in our military during this unofficial skirmish, not a real war, not a real battle, but a clash between two powers that could have led to disaster.

We do not recognize the men who tracked Soviet nuclear subs or spent weeks under water in our nuclear subs.  We do not honor the troops who stood by the Berlin Wall, observing.  We do not honor those who monitored Soviet communications.  The threat loomed over our country enough to that we stored missiles in silos and manufactured nuclear ships and subs.  But today those who served during the years that were not involved in other conflicts receive no recognition.  (Nor are they eligible to join Veterans of Foreign Wars.)  This seems particularly unfair to those who served after Vietnam, when military service was often mocked and jeered.

 

Part of the Berlin Wall

 

Perhaps our indifference is that the Cold War faded away during a period of national prosperity.  The fallout shelter signs disappeared; the bomb shelters became a symbol of cultural fears, the mushroom cloud posters faded.  When I taught Ray Bradbury’s short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” many students didn’t understand what had happened to the people in the house.  They struggled with Stephen Vincent Benet’s “By the Waters of Babylon.”  The cautionary morals are meaningless to teens who were toddlers during 9/11.  When we do not feel threatened, we do not feel fear.

Memorial for the Korean War

While the loss of a United States ambassador in Benghazi suggests that we should perhaps feel threatened, the fact that we do not is because we have faith in our military, in our National Defense, in our own patriotic resilience.  We owe our feelings of security to those who serve in the military today.  We owe our freedom to those who served in the past, in  World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the Cold War.  Those who are willing to stand on the line of fire to defend us deserve our gratitude and respect.

The National Cathedral

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About theonceandfutureemptynest

Transitions! Every couple has them: First newlyweds; then parents, then empty nesters. After raising three girls, our nest was empty--just my husband, myself, and three dogs. I taught English to middle school and high school students; my husband was a corporate drudge. Life was good. We went on vacations, had romantic dinners, and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Then a daughter came home. We relocated from California to Connecticut and found ourselves on new adventures.
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3 Responses to Remembering Those Who Served

  1. riversflownewmexico says:

    Reblogged this on River's Flow.

  2. Thanks for visiting and Liking my blog, Welcome to My Place and my post, Veterans Day Tribute. I’m a Vietnam Vet with a proud heritage of Vets back to the Revolutionary War.
    Semper Fi, and congratulations on the Marine Corp Birthday!

  3. usavet says:

    Reblogged this on A Veterans View, News & Editorials and commented:
    We will Never Forget nor Will We let Others Forget Our Sacrifices! “Remembering Our POW/MIA’s”

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