This twenty-fourteen Veteran’s Day here in Panama City, Florida, is another cool, but sunny day. With today’s high temperature expected at 77, I’d like it warmer.
But I’ll take it, thank you very much…
Wherever you are, I hope you’re also healthy and enjoying what life is giving you.
Living in the deep south, and within 20 miles of an important U.S. Air Force base, Veteran’s Day gets a lot of play around here. Just about every village stages their own parade and some kinda get together honoring us Vets.
This is also an area with it’s fair share of career military retirees.
And, because this country’s military has been fighting someone, somewhere, for 217 of the 238 years of our existence, odds are very good, you know, or are living near, an active, or ex-military type person.
It could be awkward, but…
Have you considered calling, or seeking out, a veteran and thanking them for serving our country?
In the years without mandated conscription (no draft), military service is by choice. Even more reason to pay our respect to those relatively few who volunteer. As a group, they truly warrant our gratitude.
The realities of ‘making war’ is frustrating to me.
Admittedly, our country has fought a few necessary wars. Yet, in my opinion, only a few.
I’m not a historian, nor am I privy to state secrets. But, you’ll never convince me that the estimated four trillion to six trillion dollars, we’ve borrowed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, are sound investments.
Nor is our involvement there wanted, appreciated, or necessary. And, in the end, nothing will change for the betterment of the average families who will remain living in those areas.”
It’s not our fight…
Afghanistan’s and Iraq’s internal conflicts having been going on for centuries.
The fighting is mainly over religious disagreements. Because religion is strictly an unfounded belief system brought about by indoctrination, there’s no chance of any ‘meeting of the minds’ type of agreement.
Without a truce, the winner must be the last fighter standing.
Am I too simple-minded to understand why my country is dragging our honor through dirty little religious wars like we’re some mud-wallowing primitive culture?
As a nation, our intentions for entering armed disputes, have most often been honorable and humanitarian.
And, the men and women doing the fighting are the kind who have helped build the greatest country this world has ever seen…
But, it’s frustrating to watch our nation’s politicians back-step us into fights without giving our military leaders clear objectives.
Making war is like any other endeavor. Without a plan, it’s pointless.
And, containment ‘ain’t a winning military strategy.
Case in point: Korean War. We shouldn’t have been involved in what was essentially a civil war, on the first place.
But, once committed, our politicians needed to give our military leaders the necessary power for strategizing and implementing a winning plan.
If they had done so during the Korean ‘Conflict’, we wouldn’t now be begging a murderous despot, like Kim Jong-un, to “please lay off the nuclear weapon making stuff“.
Another case in point was my war, Vietnam. Another civil war that would have worked out much as it has, without our direction-less interference.
Although, I doubt that my life, and the lives of 2,594,000 other men and women who served in Vietnam, would have worked out as it has.
I figure I’m one of the lucky ones, as I’ve led an almost normal life since those years.
OK, I did spend 11 suicidal years fighting depression, anxiety and panic attacks before being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
And, almost 40 years later, if I don’t take my daily anti-PTSD pill, I’m in danger. But, it’s all good.
My Vietnam story is pretty typical to the time and place…
Within a few months of taking a much needed break from college, in 1965, I was drafted, quickly half-trained, and sent to Vietnam.
In ‘Nam, I was a 1st Calvary helicopter crew chief, slash, door gunner.
I was shot down twice, but only crashed once, due to mechanical difficulties… as in, the pilot temporarily misplaced airspace with terra firma.
Can’t blame him, though. There was some sneaky, yet powerful ganja, floating around over there.
You may have noticed the above picture of a rather befuddled looking, yet strangely handsome man, who’s obviously unafraid to wear garish shirts…
Yup, from a few years back, that’s me pointing.
I’m standing in front of my hometown’s Vietnam veteran’s memorial, which was erected to honor our home grown vets. Appropriately, the town’s decision makers stationed the homage at the entrance of the public cemetery.
Although you can’t see it, I’m pointing to a name reading Edd Ray Thorpe.
That’s how I’m still referred to in a place where there was only one high school for the whole of Lee County, Kentucky.
BTW, for the entire county, 76 people graduated the year I did.
Anyway. Later today, and as future general practice, I resolve to reach out to some of my fellow vets.
There’re plenty of them around.
And sometimes they aren’t too hard to spot.
Many of them are homeless and out on our streets. I often see some of them wandering around out there with that scary ten thousand yard stare.
Not only does that break my heart, it always makes me feel guilty for surviving better than they have.
How about it? Give your local vet a wink & nod?
That’s it for today. Talk to you next time.
Ideas for me, your aging related story, or comments are very damn welcome…