It's Veteran's Day, well, it is the federally sanctioned observence. Yesterday was the actual event. I attended church with Citizen Prime. I was surprised, and a little humbled, to have the pastor ask for the veterans to stand and be recognized. There were about 200 people in attendance. Judging by the respective ages of those standing, I would place the number of current service members in attendance at less than 3.
My grandfather served in the war to end all wars, and then was promptly shipped overseas to serve in the sequel to that bloody conflict. My own father served as an artillery officer in the Korean War. That conflict, to this day, continues - as no peace treaty was ever signed.
I joined the service twice. I signed up as a NROTC scholarship recipient. I was unable to see that through as a college student, fortuitiously ti would prove later. I signed up again in 1997 as a direct commission officer in a Navy program. It was a time when everything looked very different from today. The discussion was to the necessity of large scale military spending. The hardest job was serving in the Balkans (we are still there). Reservists were struggling to serve in value added roles and contribute to their active commands.
Obviously, things have changed. I have always maintained that one of the primary reasons I serve is so that the two proto-citizens will not have to make that choice. I can not help but think that my father and grandfather thought the same things.
We are at a strange crossroads in our society. We live in a world where we can truly insulate ourselves from the misery and danger of the non-civilized world to a large degree. Aside from countries actively embroiled in war (Israel) the remainder of the developed world can operate without fear. And yet the balance is a fine one. The Balkans, previously mentioned, existed as a civilized state under the aegis of the Yugoslavian government. Once that veneer was torn away, centuries of ethnic hatred boiled over into Europe's worst war in half a century.
So, as I sit here in Atlanta airport, I reflect upon the young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who trek unnoticed between flights in this massive transportation center. At the security gate I watched a young, female private kiss her daughter good bye. I don't know where she was bound, but she carried the sadness of her separation cradled inside a hope that she served so that her daughter would not have to make that choice.
Sister, I know the feeling.