A Few Moments to Think About Veteran’s Day


Image: AP European history graphic Org.

Image: AP European history graphic Org.

I’ve been stuck… all week. Too much on my mind; too many things swirling in my thoughts. I finally had a post all ready, percolated and set to be typed and published… but then this morning I got in the car, and my usual Canadian rock station was playing clips from radio announcements on D-Day, so many years ago. There were audio montages of folks experiencing the end of WWII and some very old vets talking about their experiences. It was truly moving.

Just this week, I was out with friends and we got talking about the current war in Afghanistan and how far removed we feel, sometimes, especially in comparison to the generation who lived through WWII.. During WWII the entire world listened daily to updates. Kids had European and Pacific maps in their bedrooms, and the placed colored pins on the maps to mark the battles and progress of allied forces. People from all walks of life participated: whether it be saving nylons, clipping stamps, collecting metal, or working the jobs that were open, with so many men off fighting. In Europe, there was no group that wasn’t impacted. My husband’s family was living in Eastern Europe, and many were lost to the Holocaust. It was a World War for a reason.

And yet, I find myself struggling with the status of the war we are still mired in, twelve years after the fighting started. Essentially, we’ve been at war since the morning of September 11, 2001, just as Pearl Harbor officially launched the US into a World War that so many others had already been fighting. During the Vietnam War, there were nightly casualty counts, protests, images of coffins coming home. However, it seems like this war comes up most often when politics are being discussed. Kids today barely think about the fact that men and women from the US, Canada, most of Europe and the Middle East are fighting and dying in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East. Children and families of military personnel live with that reality on a daily, minute by minute basis– but few others spend much time worrying or wondering about the fate of those soldiers.

There is a human cost Image: propublica.org

There is a human cost
Image: propublica.org

It’s not that hard to see why. In the shadow of 9/11 there was a clear and potent finger-pointing at anyone who was against the war. To be anti-war was to be Un-American, Unpatriotic. The Dixie Chicks, an enormously successful country group had their CD destroyed by the thousands, and received death threats, when the publicly denounced the war, early on. With time, some of that has shifted, as more and more Americans and people in other countries who have participated, question the efficacy and righteousness of this war. Regardless of whether we support or do not support the war, it should not be all about politics. There is an enormous human cost, on all sides.

As a nation, we are quick to say that we “honor our Veterans,” but they are not always honored when their tour is over. While suicide rates among veterans has always existed, the number since the current conflict has jumped to a shocking 22 per day!  That is, according tot the Veterans Administration, a conservative estimate. Veterans often have to fight for jobs, as they struggle to assimilate to civilian life. Those who come home horribly wounded, do not always get the care and benefits that befit a “hero.”  While some Veteran’s hospitals are top-notch, there are many that are woefully understaffed and poorly run.

This is something we should see more often.  Image: usnews.com

This is something we should see more often.
Image: usnews.com

This war is kept at a distance, politicized, and I believe we are left not thinking about the war, its veterans, or the human cost, the way we did in previous wars. We rarely see flag draped coffins on the news, as viewers did during the Vietnam War. In fact, showing these coffins (something common in all previous wars) was forbidden by President George Bush, and only overturned in 2007.  The death tolls are not as prominent in the news and our collective attention, as they were in previous wars… though thousands have died, and continue to die. In Iraq: 4,486 US and 4,899 Coalition forces, and an additional 1,487 contractors were killed between 2003-2012.  In Afghanistan, as of November 7, 2013: the death toll for US and Coalition forces stands at over 3,395,  with another 1,500 contractors. Civilian death tolls in either Iraq or Afghanistan vary wildly, but numbers frequently are quoted at nearly 200,000!

Image: trekothertroups.org

Image: trekothertroups.org

<– Photos of ex-marine and his wife, that have gone viral this week.

The politics are not what I want to focus on, nor the numbers, or the who says what of it. Today, I was moved listening to stories from WWII, and realized that all over the world there are families experiencing very similar things, in regards to this “conflict.” Parents have lost their children, children have lost their parents. Husbands and wives have lost their partners… and the numbers continue to rise, while we go about our day and give little thought to that reality. So, I got watching some of the moving videos of the soldiers lucky enough to come home. I’m sharing some of them here, because I think we need to be reminded that there are sacrifices being made daily, by men and women who leave their homes to fight a battle they are called to fight. Whether or not we believe in the war, we should take a minute and consider the cost. Whatever I don’t believe in, I believe in the struggles of those who make that sacrifice.vToday, I took some time to think about that.

Get a box of tissues and watch some of these wonderful videos. I’ve chosen some compilations, because, let’s get real: one homecoming is no more amazing than another… They’re all a blessing.

Share your thoughts in the comment section. Did you take some time to appreciate Veteran’s Day this year, or was it just a day off? Do you have family members who fought in the war?

Also read:

Faces of the fallen (please take a moment to look at the faces of this war):  http://projects.militarytimes.com/valor/

Suicide Among Veterans: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/21/us/22-veteran-suicides-a-day/

Fantastic montage:  http://www.wimp.com/militaryhomecomings/

Dogs get very happy too: http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2013/08/27/dnt-wife-carries-marine-on-back.ktvb.html

Best underwater surprise ever! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIBy7SHQWH0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_casualties_in_Afghanistan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Afghanistan_(2001–present)

http://www.thenation.com/afghanistan-database

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in 9/11, Awareness, Courage, Daily Observations, Death, Holidays, Honest observations on many things, Musings, News, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to A Few Moments to Think About Veteran’s Day

  1. Mike Lince says:

    It is interesting you chose to post this on Veteran’s Day. I was about to get ready for bed last night when I decided to write something about my father on Facebook about his WWII service. I also read some reflections from veterans, one which reminded readers that the wars fought since Viet Nam were fought with an all-volunteer military. That says a lot about those who serve and have served, that it was by choice. I hate the politics of war, but I truly admire those who choose military service as one way to give something back to our country. I especially want to remember my father, who survived over three years as a Japanese POW. I seek to live well to honor his sacrifice. Thank you, Dad. And thank you Dawn, for this timely post. Your friend and admirer – Mike.

    Like

    • Mike, what a touching comment. I can’t imagine the hell your father must have survived, having read about conditions in the POW camps. The Japanese were harsh captors is there a gentle captor? I too admire those who choose to serve, though I stand firmly on the side of peace. To some degree, war is always about politics, but the right and wrong of it is much harder to come to terms with. Thanks for this thoughtful and moving response. xo

      Like

  2. Dan Hennessy says:

    Yes , you suggest some of the endless depth levels of our various wars and the human consequences — a fine memorial piece . Thanks . And , yes , this mid east war is able to be ignored most of the time by most Americans . And I think we compartmentalize it conveniently with such simplicities as all vets are “heroes” . We say we honor our heroes — and then we go on about our lives unconcerned with the realities . I like your measured review . It shows concern and expresses a deeper honor for vets on Veterans’ Day . Once again : good job !

    Like

    • Thanks so much Dan. I wanted to share some thoughts without stirring a political pot, that I’m not prepared to keep stirring. Personally, I think we honor our vets in word only. The fact that so many are homeless and struggling with emotional scars, that one vet from this current war, commits suicide each day (based on conservative estimates) is a troubling reality. It is deeply troubling to me, but I can’t say that I have solid answers. Thanks for taking the time to read and share an intelligent and thoughtful comment. Much appreciated!

      Like

  3. Don’t worry about being stuck– happens– I’m in it too.
    Nice essay about the pros and cons of war. Vietnam seems so long ago– our kids don’t understand the rage against it.

    Like

    • Nice to see you here, Lisa! Thanks for taking the time… I agree, young people today don’t really understand the “rage” and issues that so many people struggled with. However, I’m not sure that most adults think about any of that either, lately. Personally, it all just feels too political to me.

      Like

  4. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Dawn,
    You’re right about these current wars. We only hear about them as they relate to the next election. Meanwhile, people are fighting and dying and civilians are losing their lives in great numbers. It’s really very weird that the war doesn’t get much attention. Being married to a Veteran (Vietnam), I’m aware of the impact that war has on people. Peter is well-adjusted and he did not really see direct combat, but it certainly changed his perspective! We need to remember our Veterans and what they have sacrificed for us and their country.
    Cathy

    Like

    • Thanks Cathy; so well said! I find it very weird, too, that we see so little of this war– aside from political and election commentary. It is really disturbing that so many are still dying, and there is so little awareness of the daily sacrifice and suffering. Thanks for taking the time to read, and share such an important comment.

      Like

  5. Thanks for making me cry right before my OBGYN appointment 🙂 By the way, I gave you a little shout out on my blog today! Just spreading some love!

    Like

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    Great post. Yours and other posts I’ve read have reminded me that it’s been a while since I’ve sent anything off to our troops. I need to rectify that. I can’t imagine what they and their families endure on a daily basis.

    Like

    • I know! I used to run a program where I worked with school kids to write letters to soldiers, and it just faded away. It’s sad that it’s all faded so much from our collective conscience. Send that package! And bravo to you, for taking the time. 🙂

      Like

  7. This exactly what I have been feeling this week. I believe sometimes so much that is on TV and in the media is sugar-coated; and that is a huge problem. Thank you for this post, and for such a good reminder of what our veterans have sacrificed.

    Like

    • Thank YOU for taking the time to come by TFTM, to read and share your thoughts. I think that unconsciously, many of us know that things are not the way they should be. We should all be paying a little more attention to what these men and women are sacrificing. Much appreciated, “Jean.” 😉

      Like

  8. A very important post to write. Thank you for taking the time to put it together. When I lived in DC, I visited Arlington Cemetery a few times. It was a stark reminder of how many lives have been lost so I can live mine. My grandmother’s brother died in WWII and their family was never the same. It’s a terrible and unfathomable cost.

    Like

    • I have never been to Arlington, but have been to other memorials in DC. They are always so moving and powerful! I can only imagine how difficult your mother’s family’s loss was. To lose a brother, son… such a young man; it is truly tragic. Thank you for your kind comments, and meaningful sharing, Kourtney.

      Like

  9. Valery says:

    “Thank you”, said a tear-filled Louise, in English, as we sat in her Paris cafe this summer. She was old enough to remember the German occupation. My mother and I had just come from visiting the American Military Cemetery where my grandfather is buried. I never truly felt the importance of his sacrifice until that moment, through her eyes.

    I love that you write about the people, not the political who’s-right and who’s-wrong of it all. What a beautiful tribute.

    Like

    • Thanks Val… what an incredible experience and time for you and your mother to share! Very powerful, and meaningful. There are so few people left who really remember; it’s important that you did it now. Thanks for all the blog support, and friendship. xo

      Like

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