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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day

Veterans Day (and others like it) always sends me into a turbulent spiral of conflicting emotions.  To put it plainly, I want to honor people who have served, while at the same time resist sentimental glorification of war and militarism that parades as patriotism in today's world.

My observance of Veterans Day has for the past forty-something years been simple - a phone call to my brother Tom Walton to simply say thank you, without any elaboration.

This morning I am painfully lamenting that I can't make that phone call today.

And so I observe the day by sharing what I said about my brother's military service and patriotism at his funeral this past July.   


"Tom was a worker.  I think he had his first job when he was 6 years old.  At least that’s the way it seemed to me.  He was always cutting grass, bagging groceries, stocking shelves, or working the butcher counter.  He was a true worker.  He put his all into anything he did.

This is one of the main things that made him the patriot he was.

Tom loved and served his country with the same honor and trust he lived the rest of his life.  He loved his fellow military veterans in a bond that only those who have been there have and know - a bond forged in the abyss of war.

I’m going to say something here that may offend some of you, but many of you will know deep inside the truth of it.

Regardless of ideology, nationality, creed, or pledge - War is the tragic flaw of humanity and it not only takes life, it ruins it for many who survive.

My brother, patriot that he was, was also a living testimony that 13 months, perhaps a single day, or even a particular moment in war will change a young man’s (or woman’s) life forever. 

Tom lived with the demons of Viet Nam. But in spite of his war demons, Tom was a patriot.  And his patriotism was forged in places many have been but most of us don’t really want to go.

Having said all of that, I want to publicly say thank you to Tom’s brothers and sister of the American Legion, especially post 145 where he served with utmost pride.  You were truly a second (and maybe sometimes first) family to him.  God bless you."

Thank you, Tom, and all other veterans!  

My simple hope and prayer is that the human family can one day eliminate the need for Veteran's Day.  After all it did begin as Armistice Day of "the war to end all wars."

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Love the people who serve(d); agonize over fighting of any kind.