Bob here, speaking about Veteran's Day.
I served in the Army Reserve for a little more than six years, from 1984 to 1991. It was, apart from Karinya, the best thing that's ever happened to me. I was in during a relatively quiet time for the nation's military; post-Grenada and Panama and pre-Iraq and Desert Storm. I'm so very proud to be a veteran, even though my service didn't entail any really dangerous deployments. Unless you count two weeks in the summer in western Wisconsin "dangerous."
My father was a veteran as well. He was a company clerk for a field artillery unit during World War II. While I spent my time safely in the woods of Wisconsin, he spent his in the sands of North Africa and the mud and mire of Sicily and Italy. Needless to say I honor him a great deal for his service. He never talked much in detail about what he did, though when he did it was with a sense of pride.
My dad was an immigrant. He, my uncle, and my grandparents came to the U.S. from England to seek a better life. Unfortunately, they sought that better life just in time to find The Great Depression. But that's another entry for another time. He was drafted in 1943, still a subject of His Majesty, the King. When he went to tell the draft board about this, their response was that he was an American now.
I was inspired to enlist by my dad. Not encouraged by him, mind you, because he'd seen what war really was and didn't want to take the chance of me seeing it first hand as well. But I did enlist -- as much for personal pride and patriotism as for money for college. My term was, as I mentioned, pretty quiet. But during the nearly 20 years since I left the military, my pride for having served has always remained. I place those who have served before and since my time, who went into harm's way, in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, far above me on the ladder of honorable deeds but I take pride in being on that ladder at all. I hope that I have instilled in the generation who follows me a sense of that pride; both in their country and in themselves. My nephew and niece, Mitchell and McKenzie, have invited me over the last several years to their elementary school to take part in Veteran's Day activities. Several dozen other veterans, from all eras are also in attendance. We are all overwhelmed by the way the children there embrace us and thank us for our service. It is this, more than almost anything else, that makes everything worth it. I think in many cases we're a little embarrassed by all of the attention because we certainly didn't do any of this in expectation of adulation by seven year old kids. We did it because we felt a need to.
So today, on this Veteran's Day, thank a vet for his or her service. You never know what that service may be, whether it was in the sands of the Middle East, the jungles of Vietnam, the cold mountains of Korea, the mud of Italy, or the quiet forests of Wisconsin. But all of them were there standing at the front of the line to volunteer to go into harm's way so that one day we could sit back and smile at the children playing and laughing -- safely and securely.