Veteran’s Day 2012

Remembrance Day Poppy

In writing this post, I tried to think of bringing some special meaning to the day, something beyond the usual clamour of parades, mattress sales, and marking the halfway point between Halloween and Thanksgiving (at least here in the States). Something that would more fully glorify the veterans of all countries and all wars that this holiday marks. But in trying to do so, I realised that there was an unusual, but exceptionally pertinent, point that we all seem to be missing.

Love.

Now, I don’t mean love of your country, or love of your flag, or even love of freedom or peace. What I mean is a deeper love, and a love not for the veteran, but from the veteran. The love of which we should all be eternally grateful – the love of the veteran for you.

Would you be willing to do anything for your wife, husband, child, significant other, friend, or parent in your life? Even die, or worse yet, take a life? Most of us would say “yes” – while secretly hoping to never be tested to that extreme. But that’s for someone you know, someone you value, someone you love.

Would you do it for a stranger? Would you kill another person to save the life of some random person on the street? Would you take a bullet for an innocent, caught in the line of crossfire, or being targeted by a gun-wielding madman? Many of us would, out of love for our fellow human. But that’s for someone you know nothing of, who in your eyes is a neutral, someone you neither love nor hate.

But would you do it for someone you HATE? Someone who despises you, someone who denigrates everything you do and stand for. Someone who spews hatred, who lives a life dedicated to making the world a far more miserable place than it is right now. Someone who would curse you and your God, just for being you. Could you give your life, or take a life, for a neo-Nazi, a Tea Party birther, or an Islamic extremist?

Yet, this is the love the veteran has shown, and continues to show, every day of their service. They have set their own lives aside, sometimes forever, and travelled hundreds or even thousands of miles, to protect people they don’t know, and people they know are both good and evil. They leave family and friends behind, they leave home and hearth behind, and set forth into a cruel and inhospitable environment, to ensure the safety of all those left behind.

Whether in the cold of Valley Forge and the Caucasus Mountains, in the heat of the shores of Tripoli and the sands of Kandahar, on the storm-tossed seas of Atlantic or Pacific oceans and under those very waves, in the mud of Verdun and Stalingrad, in the jungles of Central America and Africa, in the streets of Lexington and Stalingrad and Mogadishu and Baghdad, in the skies over every continent, in all these environments and battles, the veteran has gone forth to do his (or her) terrible and unenviable job. And in doing so, often at the cost of their own life, the veteran has shown we civilians a great and boundless love.

So, wherever you find yourself tomorrow at 11am, whether in church or in a store or at home, do as Canada and Britain ask, and take 2 minutes. Just 120 seconds, on one day, out of your busy year and think about the veteran. Think about the US officer in the Joint Training Mission in Afghanistan, the rifleman of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry on the beach of Dieppe, the Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guard regiment standing against Napoleon, the African-American pilot in the 332nd Fighter Squadron escorting bombers over Germany, and all those throughout history. For, as the Scriptures say, “No man can show a greater love for another man, than to lay down his life for him”. And whether in person or just in your mind, take the time to say “Thank you”.

Your two minutes will be well spent.

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47 Responses to Veteran’s Day 2012

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Wonderful reflection with great advice for all. Well done, Commander.

  2. 68ghia says:

    Good post.
    Made me think of the situation in my country regarding the veterans we have here – some revered, others cast outs.
    I will give my 2 minutes of thanks for those that lay down their lives so that i could have a free and safe childhood…

    • And don’t forget those who served, then went on to lead quiet civilian lives. Something I learned from talking to a lot of vets – some of them see their service as “a small part” of their lives, and want to be remembered for their family and work lives. And hard as that is for me, I have learned to accept that – and still respect their service.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Elyse says:

    Beautifully written and felt, John. I’ll take you up on this one.

    • Thanks, Elyse. And, if you don’t already, be sure to fly a flag tomorrow. (Maybe I’ll post a photo of the front of our house tomorrow – we’ve been known to fly a flag or a couple dozen.)

  4. fasab says:

    A very nice piece of writing my friend.

  5. Lyle says:

    You have a good heart John. Beautiful words my friend.

  6. tom says:

    Totally inspiring. although I don’t think this this Veteran has reached that level, but proud to be in the company of those that have.

    • It is my VERY great pleasure, my friend. I just wish there was more I could do for you in return for all you’ve done. Stay safe, and bring that ranty backside of yours home soon, okay? (Yeah, I know, you’re at the “mercy” of the 5-sided preschool. πŸ˜‰ )

  7. Binky says:

    I know you’ve had some involvement with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry in the past, so you might be interested that they’re celebrating their 150th this year. There are some articles about it in the local paper for Remembrance Day http://www.thespec.com/community/RHLI

    • Thanks, Binky. I was aware of their 150th. It’s actually a “double-suck”, because this August was the 70th of the Invasion of Dieppe, where the Rileys made it the furthest inland of any of the units on the main beach. (Only a British Commando unit got further, blowing up some guns and a radar site.) I really wanted to be there for this double anniversary, but couldn’t make it. (Sigh.) Maybe on the 80th and 160th in ten years?
      And thanks for stopping by!

      • Binky says:

        I didn’t know they had made it furthest inland. But I know you know a lot more about than than I do.

      • At least one squad made it to the Casino in the town – the farthest of any of the Canadian units deployed. The British Commandos on (I think) the left of the battle (east-ish) did get to a radar station and (if I recall) a battery of 105mm or 150mm guns – but I’m not as familiar with the flanks of the battle, so I may be wrong on that.
        I’ll put it this way – when four actual Riley veterans invite a person out to lunch, and pick up the tab, you make sure you have the salient facts VERY correct! πŸ˜‰ (They were impressed I had come up from Chicago to meet them – THEY were impressed by ME! Sure, these guys joined after Dieppe, and came ashore a couple weeks after D-Day, but they fought their way halfway across Northern Europe, fought house to house in boats to capture the flooded approaches to Antwerp, and THEY were impressed by ME! 😯 )
        And apologies to the rest of my readers, I probably just bored three or four of you unconscious! Nitey night! πŸ˜€

      • Binky says:

        Well I thought it was very interesting! It’s funny that they don’t generally talk much about the Rileys around here.

      • That’s something I noticed when we were up there about 15 years ago. Smaller towns seemed to be rabid about their military heritage, while larger towns were blase about theirs. I know Hamilton has a lot invested in the CWHM – maybe that’s why the Rileys get the short end? Brantford is positively frenetic, with both a museum and their … plinth? Cenotaph? War memorial? Whatever – it’s HUGE for such a relatively small town. Trenton is VERY proud of the CFB there, but seems almost embarrassed by the RCAF museum on base, while I thought it was one of the best museums I’ve seen, on a density of display basis. Mind you, I’m sure a lot of things have changed with the seemingly endless slog through Afghanistan – more Army emphasis, less RCAF glory. Which in a way would be nice – I remember a PAINFULLY tiny Royal Canadian Corps of Signals museum on a base that could’ve used a major renovation years before we saw it!
        Hm .. is it possible to be homesick for somewhere you’ve never lived? I suddenly have a hankering for REAL Tim Horton’s and a wander through somewhere, constantly accompanied by the background drone of “eh?”! πŸ˜€

      • It’s probably true about bigger cities being less knowledgeable and interested in their military heritage. Less of a personal connection I guess when there is a large population. You don’t know each other, and you don’t know your past. You’re more aware of our Canadian military than about 99% of Canadians.

        Too bad I couldn’t send you a dozen dounuts, some Timbits, and a few double-doubles. The original Tim Hortons started less than a mile from here, eh?

      • Um … dude, you’ve CHANGED! Seriously. Your Gravatar name has changed, and I had to approve you again. Whassa matter, Mounties on your tail? πŸ˜‰

    • Binky says:

      “It has to be your cha??” How did that get in there?
      I think the internet trolls must be trying to get me or something.

  8. Pingback: Veteran’s Day « BrainRants

  9. Pingback: Veteran’s day. | jaycee68

  10. benzeknees says:

    Reblogged this on benzeknees and commented:
    This is a new blog by John who I first got to know as a commenter on a number of blogs I follow. His thoughts reflect my own thoughts so completely, I couldn’t have written anything better. This is for all of my grandfather’s brothers (only 1 of whom came home from WWII), all the men & women who have given up time with their families, their health or even their life in the past & the present so I can have the life I want.

  11. whiteladyinthehood says:

    That was perfect.

  12. Beth Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing–much better than anything I could have ever written so I posted it on Facebook to share with others!!! Great words…..thank you!

    • Wow – you shared my humble work on Facebook? Thank you SO much! And thank you for stopping by.

      • Beth Ann says:

        Haha!!! Oh yes indeed I did! It was far better than anything else that I have read today—and it has been shared via my share—-let the waves of fame wash over you! πŸ™‚

      • Uh-oh – waves of fame? I’m more of the “infamy” type myself. My wife has a favourite quote: “If you can’t serve as a good example, serve as a terrible warning”. I usually end up in the latter category …. πŸ˜€

  13. Wonderfully written piece John. Kudos πŸ™‚

  14. Archon's Den says:

    Well said, as usual John! Flags! I apologised to Rants for forgetting about flags. Canadians don’t do flags as much as Americans, but perhaps should, if only for this one special day.

    • No worries, Archon. I had you covered with a “Red Ensign” Canadian flag. (Well, actually, it’s an Ontario provincial flag, but it’s close enough for government work. πŸ˜‰ ) I know Canadians (and other Commonwealth as well) aren’t quite as attached to their flags as we Yanks are. I attribute it to Royal envy, personally. πŸ˜€
      Though seriously, I think all countries should have a day to fly their flags and honour their soldiers – even the “losers”. Just because the regime failed the people, doesn’t mean the soldiers did.

  15. Well said. Thanks for writing this, John.

  16. Thanks! I’ve always loved and respected or vets , and as I’ve learned more about military history, their stories are just continually astounding. I’m glad I could sing their praises in this tiny way.

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