Monday, May 25, 2009

Morituri Te Salutant

As surprised as I am to say it, one of my biggest regrets is that I never spent any time in the military. I was born at Ft. Lee Army Base in Virginia right after my dad had gotten his orders to Vietnam. The fact that I was born by emergency caesarean section (a big deal in the 70's) kept him from going. In high school, I joked that he had me to thank for still having his legs. A week ago, my girlfriend's grandmother was laid to rest at Great Lakes National Cemetary in Michigan. As a Coast Guard vet, she got the 21-gun salute and the whole pomp and circumstance. I'm usually guilty of looking at Memorial Day as just a day off, but I've given more thought to the sacrifices our veterans have made and how poorly they're generally treated upon their return. I'm a proud liberal and I scoff at a lot of empty gestures. People with "Support Our Troops" stickers on their cars who ignore the homeless vet at the stoplight don't impress me. However, I'm also deeply grateful to the thousands of our brothers, sisters, moms, dads, sons, and daughters who are half a world away continuing the life-threatening work that you and I will never have to do.

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