Veterans Day: Remembering and Learning

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Today is Veterans Day.  It marks the end of major military conflict of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the eleventh month in 1918.  On this day, over 90 years ago, a whole lot of "Veterans" were made.  And so, it is a day of remembrance.

And so I do remember.

I remember my great uncle, Uncle Bob.  He fought at the battle of Normandy in World War II.  He had medals and ribbons on his dresser but never wanted to speak of the war.  Granted, I was just a child when I knew him.  Perhaps I was too young to comprehend.

I remember all of the wonderful men of that Bible study in Kenai, Alaska. I was with that group when Saving Private Ryan was released (1998). I remember how formative that war was in their lives and how a few of them were eager to see the movie and, in some way, relive and remember what had happened to them and around them so many years ago.  But, I also remember how a few of those men were defiant in their not wanting to see that movie.  One said, "I can barely live with the memories now.  I can't go to a movie theater and try to experience all of those things again."

I remember Chris, who was a sniper in Somalia back in 1993, during the Black Hawk Down days.  Chris has had emotional issues since that time.  I try to put myself in his shoes, just a little.  Alone.  Rifle in hand.  Waiting.  Determining who it is that you're supposed to shoot.  Firing.  Watching.  Waiting.  Wondering who might be pointing a rifle at you.

I remember the many nameless (to me) casualties of our most recent wars whose stories I've read of late.  While I am amazed at how wonderful our technologies have become to keep persons alive, I'm stunned by the injuries sustained by roadside bombs, the IEDs.

I remember these folks today.

Most of those I remember are men.  But I know of women who have served in the Armed Forces and many more who have "military families" where the sacrifices of the soldiers are also carried by those they leave behind, those trying to "hold down the fort" in their absence.

Most of those I remember are no longer serving.  But there are many more who are in harms way today.  I remember Richie.  I remember the military couples I've married before the men have deployed.

It is good to remember sacrifice.

It is good to remember bravery.

It is good to remember our veterans and to thank them for service that most of us can't begin to understand most of us would have avoided at all cost.

We are a remembering people.  But I believe we remember so that our presents and our futures are shaped.  We remember to learn.  We remember, not to lay wreaths on our past, but to lay a new road to the future.

But I watch the news.   I read the paper.  I see the look on the faces of those who are so eager to join the military, to fight for their country, to serve...

And I wonder if we've learned.
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