Monday, November 10, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008

I am descended from a Revolutionary War veteran – a man of Dutch descent whose first name was Koert (probably pronounced in a way that sounded like “Curt”). The Battle of Monmouth, which raged near Old Tennent Church in Monmouth County, New Jersey, is considered to be one of the non-decisive battles of the War for Independence (read: a draw). I know my ancestor was in that particular battle, but I don’t know much more than that.

Of course, there was no Veteran's Day holiday at that time.

Generations later, my own grandfather (from the same family as ancestor, Koert) fought in both World War I and World War II. I know very little about his military service in the first World War, but I do know that he volunteered to go back in for WWII and went over to Europe as military police (he had been a mounted police officer in Newark, NJ, at the time). After the war, he remained in Bavaria for a short time as one of the Military Governors assigned by the Allies to aid the transition process. He also witnessed at least part of the Nuremberg trials.

Two of my stepsons currently serve in the Idaho National Guard, with one of the boys already having completed a tour of duty in Iraq. (That’s a year that we spent pretty much down on our knees.) There is talk that the Idaho Guard may be deployed again within the next 18 months, and I will confess that I am very, very reluctant to see them go.

I won’t pretend to know whether our current war is justified or not justified, and it’s not a point I’m willing or able to debate with anyone. It is what it is, and our hard-working troops go where our government sends them.

The point is that we owe all our veterans a great deal of gratitude – and that’s true whether they fought in a popular or an unpopular war. The scars they receive from battle are not just physical and can shadow their whole lives. The scars their families bear as a result of the enforced separation can be long-lasting and deep.

We really do owe them a huge debt for the sacrifices they have made/are making on our behalf.

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