A fellow blogger (sorry, do not remember which one) told this amusingly sad story. He was entertaining a visitor from England who was duly impressed with the fact that we honour all the veterans, not just the fallen ones; to which my "colleague" was embarrassed to add that for most of the people it's basically just a day off (that, at least, is the gist of the story). Oh, how sad and true that is.
Of course, the original intent for the Veteran's Day was quite noble and really intended to honour all of them, dead and alive, and to give our thanks for their noble sacrifice. Because no matter how you look at it, once a person joined the Army (for whatever reasons), and then he or she is send to an active battlefield, it irrevocably changes their lives, and their actions become a sacrifice for our freedom; as simple as that. And, somehow, it was pretty clear to most Americans, before or after the official institution of the Veteran's Day. Clear, that is, till that wonderful generation of spoiled brats and ungrateful swine, otherwise known as the hippies, came on the scene in all their unwashed and unshaven glory.
All of the sudden we are not just a sovereign country protecting ourselves (and in the process the freedom of the few more ungrateful swine beyond our borders), never mind the lofty title of the beacon of freedom for the world, but an imperialistic/fascist dictatorship, bent on world domination, and our soldiers are killers and rapists, heartlessly wiping out poor civilian population everywhere. So, it logically follows that we may protest to our hearts' content the wars that are basically fought in defence of our country, and the reasons for which we usually do not comprehend, but can offer wonderfully catchy slogans in return along the lines of "make love, not war". In the process of protesting and making love, we may also denigrate our soldiers to our hearts' content, spit at them (literally and figuratively), and call them murderers and rapists (among other colourful epithets). And the worst horror in this situation is that all those protesters, far from being punished, are accepted by society as youthful idealists and truth seekers, and all the garbage they were spouting somehow became acceptable as well. The hated, disgusting peace symbol became a fashion accessory, while Vietnam vets are swelling the population of homeless and mentally ill.
So, is it any wonder that in such a healthy climate we totally forgot about the meaning of Veteran's Day; that it is just an extra day off for some, and an extra excuse to have sales? But the Veterans are still among us, and more and more are swelling their ranks, because, as tried and cliched as it sounds, freedom is not free, and now we need to protect it more than ever. Fortunately, the usual silent majority of Americans does not share the views of the hippies; even more fortunately, they are beginning to break their silence. This time around, anti-war crowd was met with a pretty decent resistance from the "uneducated and warmongering" populace. So, G-d willing, when our guys and girls win this current war and come home, it will be to well deserved admiration and respect. Meanwhile, I personally recommend this website: http://moveamericaforward.org; among other things, they constantly organize care packages to our troops.
Most of you, I am sure, did not watch Leno's on Veteran's Day, so did not get the chance to hear a heart-wrenching story told over by Senator McCain. He was telling about a fellow POW who contrived to have a makeshift American flag on the inside of his blue prison uniform, to which they all pledged allegiance every evening. At a certain point, Vietnamese found out about it, took the guy out of the cell, and beat him up for a couple of hours. That very same evening, beaten up and badly hurt, he proceeded to make another flag.
So, here is to you, whenever you are with us or not, all the Veterans who fought and continue to fight for our freedom! Here is to your allegiance to the flag, bravery, patriotism, and tremendous self-sacrifice! I, amongst many other grateful Americans, thank you from the bottom of my heart.