Friday, November 09, 2018

Veteran's Day 2018

     Veteran's Day is this Sunday. The 100th year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the War to end all Wars, at least until 1939.
      And of course, all the hubbub about veterans and how best to honor them. Among  the offerings of the obligatory veteran's discounts.
      I'm not really a big chaser of veteran's discounts. I don't feel that my tour of duty warrants them. If I saw combat, if I was injured and earned a Purple Heart, if I came home with PTSD or some other mental issue, that's one thing. But I came home pretty much the way I left. More than a few pounds heavier, a little bit more mature, a little irritated in retrospect that I didn't do more to make more of my time in.
      I didn't join the service because I wanted to uphold some great family tradition of military service. I joined because I had crap grades out of high school, I wasn't prepared in the least for college, and Homewood in 1980 was a place I desperately wanted to leave. Because my black ass might not be alive today had I decided to stick around. 
      Look on my DD214, not a helluva lot on there worth noting. A grand total of two decorations. Neither of them took any special effort to earn. More or less, just being in the right place at the right time and keeping my nose clean for four years.  And while I wear my ship's ball caps, and am proud to rep the veteran status, and while I appreciate that veteran's discounts exist. I'm not big on chasing them down.
      I'm not in great financial shape, but I don't want to be looked on as a charity case.
      I'm uncomfortable with people thanking me for my service. My service wasn't really all that much. I wasn't a Rambo or a war hero. I didn't come out with a chest full of medals. I didn't jump out of a perfectly good airplane. My Navy career isn't the stuff of Tom Clancy thrillers. I was a cook. I served chow. Pretty good chow, but cooks don't make it on to recruiting posters. Hollywood doesn't make movies about stewburners, at least not stewburners that aren't secretly Navy SEAL's. That celebrity treatment's for the SEAL's and the fighter jocks.
      That wasn't even my first choice of careers.  I ended up doing that because I bombed out of my first choice job and was willing to go to San Diego for six weeks to go to a school, damn near any school rather than go to the fleet as a deckape. I f'd up more than a few times, when I was in the service. But I succeeded in keeping my crow, getting my Good Boy medal and not going up to Captain's Mast. Big Whoop.  Thanks to all those who put on this country's uniform. Especially those who were just a face in the crowd, a cog in the machine. Who came home neither as a hero, nor as a mental case, or in a flag draped coffin.

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