You can if you want to, of course. You can and perhaps should thank any other veteran for their service. Those that served in the military, whether in times of peace or war, were in the forefront of keeping this country’s residents free to pursue their life, liberty, and happiness. Many made the ultimate sacrifice and paid the ultimate price for their service and for your freedoms. I was named for my mother’s brother John who died serving in Europe in 1945 before I was born. At the recent dedication of the Highlands Ranch Veteran’s Monument I saw the parent or spouse of two fallen soldiers receive posthumous recognition. It was tragedy brought close, and difficult to watch, yet just a small example of the tens and hundreds of thousands who have passed before to protect the greatest bastion of free individualism for over two centuries.
I served in the Army and Vietnam because I wanted to. Admittedly I was hedging my bets a bit, as I knew I was most likely going to ‘Nam one way (college ROTC officer volunteer) or the other (enlisted draft). (There was no draft lottery when I entered college and ROTC, otherwise I might have been happy to gamble on the luck of the draw.) I’ve just never felt I deserved a special thank you. Actually it has been my observation that what is extraordinary about service men and women is that they are “ordinary”. They are regular, everyday, people just like those that don’t serve. Yes, they DO extraordinary things when called upon, and sometimes pay that ultimate price, but they are just regular folks doing that.
I don’t have a problem with those that avoided ‘Nam. Some "served” locally, within the States. Service none the less. Some lucked out with a good number in the draft lottery and didn’t have to go. I knew many in college that furthered their education, year after year after year. 5, 6, 7 yrs. B.A., M.B.A., PhD. At least they were educated! I never thought of running away. In my family if you were called upon, you served. Dad and all 3 of my uncles were in WWII, one of them, as mentioned, paying the ultimate price. A fraternity brother felt strongly about serving in Vietnam, joined the Marines, went through Officers Candidate School, and was killed in action over there. I’ve looked him up on "The Wall" in Washington D.C. I DO hope that those who moved to Canada to avoid the service had the strength of their convictions to stay there. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen (and stay out).
I feel I’ve committed the ultimate vanity by buying myself a dedication tile at the Highlands Ranch Veteran’s Monument. (My award was for service, not valor. I’m not a war hero.) Perhaps it’s that longing that I will be named somewhere, for some time after my eventual demise, as I intend to be cremated and scattered to whatever strong wind is available. (Mountains preferably, windy coast if you must, but puh-leeze not windy Nebraska lest I surely wind up on the East Coast seemingly within 5 minutes.) But I digress.
Like most folks, I’ve made my share of mistakes in this life. (I must do an inquiry someday on how we humans can make sooo many mistakes and still, so often, turn out ok.) Hopefully my service was "something" worthwhile. Thank goodness many have served to give us the freedom to make and correct those mistakes.
I’ve posted numerous pictures of the Highlands Ranch Veteran’s Monument dedication which took place July 1st: http://johnrh.spaces.live.com/photos . Let me know if you have any problems accessing the site or photos.