Happy Veterans’ Day! I hope if you had contact today with a veteran or family members of one, that you thanked them for their service and sacrifice.
This evening PBS ran a program entitled “National Salute to Veterans”. When I first saw the television listing, I figured it was one of those quasi-patriotic shows where pop stars perform with a backdrop of some historic building in Washington, DC. But the newspaper entertainment section had a short story which explained the Veterans’ Day show was produced by Michael Colbert, whose father Jerry Colbert created the “National Memorial Day Concert” and “A Capitol Fourth”. I always enjoy those two presentations because they are truly patriotic in nature.
Tonight’s program was somewhat solemn, with the stories of a woman who had lost her father in the Vietnam War and a soldier wounded by an IED in the more recent conflicts. We were told that 43,000 service members have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about 6000 have died.
While most of the US seems consumed by Twitter, Facebook and who will win “American Idol”, there are still many members of the military returning home with horrific injuries. The number of soldiers with multiple amputations has increased dramatically. While modern medical technology has made it possible to survive such injuries, multiple surgeries are usually required followed by intensive and extensive rehabilitation therapy. The lives of these service members and their families have been changed forever.
On “National Salute to Veterans”, the first musical performance after the National Anthem was “God Bless the USA”
I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
We owe all our veterans a debt of gratitude. Even if you objected to the conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and/or Afghanistan, you should still be thankful. Those who have fought for our country have guaranteed your right to protest our government entering into a war. In many nations, there are serious repercussions for criticizing the government. In the past 50 years we have had more serious disagreements about war than ever occurred with World War II or earlier conflicts. But the majority of Americans have still rallied around our troops. That American tradition must continue, on Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day and all year.