“No one will ever see things the way I do, no one will try. All my friends say that I’m gone but I swear, I’m not.”
I woke up this morning and as custom, scrolled through my newsfeed. As I shuffled through old pictures of people in their uniforms, I came across a post by a well-known veteran’s page and read his update concerning Veteran’s Day.
The admin went about lamenting on the fact that this is a day to be dreaded. He went on to say that it’s a day where people are obligated to say “thank you” to us and that we are always awkward in our “you’re welcome” and that those thanking us are “oblivious’” to what exactly they’re thanking us for. He mentioned that we just want to go back in time and get our buddies back and make better decisions, to sleep without nightmares, and that we are grateful for more than those showing their gratitude could ever be. He expressed nothing but disdain for Veteran’s Day because of what it means to HIM.
Though I understand and generally agree with his sentiment and the resulting pontification; I realized one, blatant, fact in this young man’s tirade: he was making it all about HIM.
I understand that most of us who have had any sort of actual combat experience in the last 13 years all share the same longing for peace in our hearts. Every day can be a struggle to reach that goal. I know, and have written at length about “thank you” being an empty obligation for a lot of straights. But it caused me to think about Veteran’s Day as it’s meant to be, and how it differs from what it actually has become for a lot of vets. A lot of guys, at least in my generation, have made Veteran’s Day out to be “GWOT Veteran’s Day” and have forgotten that there are those that have gone before us and ALLOWED for us to even be veterans.
I will say this…
Veteran’s day isn’t about YOU.
It’s become a day where veterans and those impersonating them, go for hand-outs and freebies. I understand there are those that genuinely want to express their appreciation, but in the same vein, there are those of “us” that go seeking free food and validation.
Vets proudly change their profile pictures to photos from the “good ol’ days” and sit back and wait for the “thank you’s” to roll in.
Pride in your service is acceptable, don’t think otherwise. But fishing is not.
We need to stop making Veteran’s Day about ourselves and take a second to realize that there are generations of veterans that went before us, cleared paths, saved lives, and even SAVED THE DAMN WORLD.
Instead of checking to see what restaurants are offering free meals to vets, how about going down to the VFW or Legion hall and sitting down next to that lonely, salty, old, hitter at the end of the bar? Listen to his stories, express your gratitude, and THANK HIM FOR HIS SERVICE.
You know that old man down the street that spends all day screaming at squirrels to get off his lawn? He’s a Korean War vet, go talk to him. Help him do some chores. Listen to HIS stories, and THANK HIM FOR HIS SERVICE.
That guy in the wheelchair with the Vietnam stickers on it? Buy his ass a lap dance. THANK HIM FOR HIS SERVICE.
My point is that YOU aren’t the only vet with cool stories, or a head full of dreadful nightmares, or a heavy heart. You aren’t the only one that has made sacrifices. You aren’t the only one that deserves to be appreciated. Use today as an excuse to serve your fellow veteran. Instead of going on a harangue about how no one knows why they’re thanking YOU, why don’t YOU instead go make another vet’s day awesome? Thank them. You DO understand why you’re grateful. Who better to thank a vet than another vet?
Excuse me: Who better than another vet and strippers?
Thank you all for your service.
Happy Veteran’s Day.