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November 11, 2004

Veterans Day -- To remember, to give thanks

Iwo Jima MemorialThis is one holiday that has not been "Mondazed", turned into a three-day weekend excuse for shopping. It can still give us pause to thank the men and women who protect us today and to remember the service of all the men and women who have come before. Michele has a wonderful post with some excellent links. Don't miss the slide show and don't forget the kleenex.

Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day, the end of WWI. We don't really recall that war much, regulating it to the opening salvos of WWII. Even WWII is beginning to fade, like the living veterans who are dwindling. Vietnam has figured larged in our recent consciousness, no small part due to a man who couldn't give a public statement without referring to it. Korea is rarely discussed and Iraq polarizes.

US soldier in Iraq
The majority of families in this country have given members to the service of this country ... service that allows the rest of us to argue in print, celebrate in peace, mourn unmolested.

War is not glorious. It is ugly, brutish and something to be avoided. But not avoided at all costs, because sometimes war is as necessary as a surgery that will save a life even as it disfigures.

My 2x great-grandfather, James Kenton Ellis, served in the 26th Ky Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.Two of his letters home are here. They reflect not glory but weariness and longing. Here is the Marines Casualty List of May 13, 1918. Look towards the bottom under MIA.

Aseltine, Ray Howard; Willis Aseltine, 134 Clemens Av., Lansing, Mich.

That was my great uncle. He actually came home after six horrendous months as a POW. In a letter to his mother he relates the cruelty he witnessed and experienced (he lost over 50 lbs as slave labor in Germany and only lived because he became so ill the Germans warehoused him in a "hospital" to die and then Nov 11th came along). However, he ends the letter, written from a hospital in the US with pride in having served his country and the sentiment he would do it all again.

11th Airborne DivisionMy own father served with the Army's 11th Airborne Division during the occupation of Japan. He was stationed in Honshu for two years. In 1951, shortly after he and my mother were married, he was recalled for Korea.

Please take a few moments today, to remember your own family's history, to reflect on the service of them and friends. Say a quiet prayer for our soldiers -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, wherever they are serving. If you see a man or woman in uniform, thank them. Pick up their check if you see them in a restaurant. Understand, too, if they are humble about your thanks because they do not serve for the thanks nor for glory, but out of the deepest sense of service to this country they love.

My home this morning

Let me end this post with a WWI poem:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the Eternal mind, no less
Gives somehwere back the thoughts by England given,
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke 1915

Posted by Darleen at November 11, 2004 08:05 AM


I share your sentiment.

Posted by: Mieke at November 11, 2004 09:44 AM

WOW!! I haven't seen an 11th Airborne patch in years! Nice Post!

Posted by: Jerry at November 17, 2004 06:18 PM


Thanks! you have made my day.


Posted by: John at August 9, 2005 11:10 AM