by Ben Small
Yes, I know Mark beat me to it, and I tried hard not to fall back on Memorial Day as a topic today, but this is Memorial Day, and that fact has been in my thoughts all day.
I've never been in the service. You might say I flunked out. Oh yes, I was called for duty in Vietnam, but when it came time for fitness for service pronouncements, I was deemed unfit. Believe it or not, my feet were too large and I was too tall. And the allergies. Evidently somebody thought I'd be too good a target even in my bare feet, and that my sneezing would give our location away.
I wasn't unhappy about it, needless to say, because I was one who thought we shouldn't be in Vietnam anyway. And not having to go left me free to attend law school.
So my war record can be described in two letters: 4F.
And believe it or not, I don't know anybody who was killed or badly injured in war. So, after watching the Indy 500 yesterday -- my usual way of celebrating Memorial Day -- I felt a bit guilty. I saw that Washington was celebrating Memorial Day with a concert, so I tuned in.
Wow! What an impact. When Katie Holmes and another actress talked about Jose's ordeal, and I saw him, I cried. And then I thought about my nephew serving in Afghanistan. He volunteered. And he's on his third tour of duty. He doesn't whine, doesn't criticize, he trains and then goes. And he's proud of his service. And I'm proud of him.
I can't imagine the terror that must strike these soldiers the first time they see an insurgent, or the first time they hear an IED going off. And the post traumatic stress so many of them suffer for a long time after their service. The Agent Orange hangover from Vietnam. The poison gas from the first World War, the hordes of Chinese invading Korea, the beachhead at Normandy. So much terror...
But our soldiers were called and they served. And no matter what is said about why or how we got into and are fighting any particular war, we need to remember that this is all rhetoric to those who are actually doing the fighting. For them, it's a matter of life and death.
God bless these brave men and women.