Tag Archives: veterans

WT set to honor vets who gave their full measure

I am proud of West Texas A&M University, even though I never attended the school; nor did either of my sons.

My pride stems from the decision to erect a memorial on the WT campus that honors those grads from the school who have given their full measure of devotion in service to their country.

They broke ground the other day, with several dignitaries on hand to turn some dirt over to symbolize the start of construction.

This project exemplifies in my mind the nation’s continuing redemption toward the way it treats those who have served in the nation’s military. It wasn’t always this way, as those of us old enough can remember.

I was struck to see Randall County Judge Ernie Houdashell (second from left in the picture attached to this post) among those breaking ground. Houdashell is a buddy of mine and he — like yours truly — served in Vietnam during the war that tore the nation apart. The national reaction to that war sank the nation to its emotional nadir as it related to its treatment of veterans. I know that Houdashell remembers that time, because he has told me so.

That was then. The here and now brings loads of respect and affection for the men and women who have answered the call.

As for the WT memorial, it will bring additional honor to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in every war this nation has fought since 1917, when we entered World War I.

Times do change. So do attitudes. It’s part of a national maturation. Indeed, the nation hasn’t always acted maturely where its veterans are concerned.

We’re doing so now — and that’s all that really matters.

This vet got one heck of a surprise

FOUNTAIN, Colo. — I am about to offer a brief illustration of just how far this country has come in its treatment of Vietnam War veterans.

It has come a long way from the bad old days when vets from that conflict were treated with maximum disrespect and, dare I say, dishonor.

We ventured to this city to meet with good friends. They recommended a place they were anxious to try out. It’s called “Sarge’s”; it is owned by a U.S. Army veteran and it caters to vets. Its walls are decked out in military insignia, pictures, knickknacks, this and that.

The owner of the place came to our table to chat us up. I didn’t get his name, so I’ll refer to him only as “Sarge.” I asked him about his career: He retired in the summer of 2016 after 23 years of active duty; he was an infantryman. “Oh, you must have seen combat,” I said. Yes, he answered, reeling off deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then I mentioned that my last duty deployment was with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which formerly was based in Fort Carson, Colo., just up the road from where we ate our dinner; I served with the unit when it was based at Fort Lewis, Wash. I told him I had trained as an aircraft mechanic and then served in Vietnam with an Army aviation unit and then was sent to serve as a flight ops specialist at the I Corps Tactical Zone operations center in Da Nang.

“The Army, in its wisdom, then sent me to the 3rd Cav and let me drive a five-ton cargo truck,” I said. “Hey, it makes perfect sense me,” Sarge said with a laugh.

Then he summoned one of his employees over, whispered something to him and then declared he was reducing our dinner tab by 50 percent. “I take half off for all Vietnam and Korean War vets,” he said.

I … was … stunned. What none of us realized at the moment was that he discounted the tab for all four of us.

“Don’t I have to show you proof that I served in ‘Nam?” I asked. “Oh, no. You just said it without missing a beat,” he said. “That’s good enough for me.”

This likely would not have happened in 1970 when I returned home from my Army service. Please understand that I did not suffer the indignity inflicted on many other of my Vietnam War brothers. I merely watched it unfold in real time as we all sought to start our lives as we returned to “The World.”

I merely wanted to mention how Sarge has exhibited with a simple act of kindness to someone he didn’t know who merely said he had served in a long-ago conflict.

America, you indeed have come a long, long way.

This man must think the media will go soft on him

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads from a list of donations to veteran's groups, during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) ORG XMIT: NYRD102

Donald J. Trump’s exhibition of petulance was a sight to behold.

Standing before reporters who had gathered to question him about whether he’d actually raised the money he said he had raised for veterans, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee sought to turn the tables on the questioners.

He called one of them a “sleaze.” He called another one a “loser.” He called the media “dishonest,” and the political media even more dishonest than that.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/trump-veterans-donations-223730

He proclaimed that he didn’t want to make the veterans contributions a big public deal. Oh, but when he backed out of a Fox News debate, he said out loud and in public that he’d raised $6 million and given a million bucks himself.

Media representatives have questioned whether Trump actually raised the money for the veterans. They want Trump to account for the money.

And for that they get called “sleazy”?

Does this individual — the GOP nominee in waiting — expect the media to back off in the highly unlikely event he’s ever elected president?

Listen to the press conference in its entirety. It’s gone viral out there in Social Media Land.

Then get back to me and tell me this guy really is suited for the job he is seeking.

 

Some expressions become meaningless

People extend greetings or offer certain expressions that at times — all too frequently, actually — seem like cliché.

“Have a nice/blessed/wonderful day.” “How ya doin’?” “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Those three have become trite and, frankly, hackneyed.

A New York Times essay tells of veterans who don’t like people saying, “Thank you for your service.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/please-don%e2%80%99t-thank-me-for-my-service/ar-BBhPFEn

Why is that? According to the Times, vets feel that the expression of thanks from non-veterans rings shallow, tinny, insincere. As one vet told the Times, those offer such expressions “don’t have skin in the game,” meaning they haven’t seen war in Afghanistan or Iraq.

I kind of understand the feeling here. Thanking someone for their service does sound like something one is supposed to say — even when the expression of thanks comes from the heart of the person offering it.

Matt Richtel’s article states: “To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.”

One of the vets Richtel interviewed had an interesting take on these expressions: The idea of giving thanks while not participating themselves is one of the core vet quibbles, said (Michael) Freedman, the Green Beret. The joke has become so prevalent, he said, that servicemen and women sometimes walk up to one another pretending to be ‘misty-eyed’ and mockingly say ‘Thanks for your service.’

“Mr. Freedman, 33, feels like the thanks ‘alleviates some of the civilian guilt,’ adding: ‘They have no skin in the game with these wars. There’s no draft.’

“No real opinions either, he said. ‘At least with Vietnam, people spit on you and you knew they had an opinion.’”

I never got spit on when I came home from Vietnam. But I’ve discovered that a particular expression does resonate with Vietnam veterans. It’s a pretty simple statement that we didn’t hear much back then: Welcome home.

As the vets interviewed by the Times said, they appreciate hearing from those who’ve been there. Those who haven’t, well, those expressions of thanks at times make today’s vets bristle.

As Richtel writes: “(Hunter) Garth appreciates thanks from someone who makes an effort to invest in the relationship and experience. Or a fellow vet who gets it. Several weeks ago, he visited one of his soul mates from the mud hut firefight, which they refer to as the Battle of the Unmarked Compound. They drank Jameson whiskey in gulps.

“’We cried in each other’s arms until we both could tell each other we loved each other,’ Mr. Garth said. ‘We each said, thank you for what you’ve done for me.’”

 

 

Obama: We won the Korean War

President Barack Obama made an interesting – some might say startling – assertion the other day in commemorating the 60th anniversary of the truce that stopped the fighting during the Korean War.

He said the good guys actually won the war.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/313883-obama-we-will-not-forget-korean-wars-legacy

The Korean War long has been thought of as the nation’s “forgotten war,” coming so soon after the end of the World War II and as another war, in Vietnam, was just beginning to get stoked. Roughly 40,000 Americans died during the Korean War in some of the most intense and bloody combat this nation has ever seen.

It’s also been a matter of conventional wisdom that the fighting ended in a stalemate. South and North Korea never have signed a peace treaty. An armistice – plus the presence of U.S. military personnel and the threat of nuclear annihilation – have kept the two sides from shooting at each other.

President Obama put a different spin on the outcome while paying tribute to the U.S. veterans who fought in Korea.

“That war was no tie. Korea was a victory,” he said at a Washington ceremony in remarks to Korean War veterans. “When 50 million South Koreans live in freedom, a vibrant democracy … a stark contrast to the repression and poverty of the North, that is a victory and that is your legacy.”

When you look at it that way, the Korean War surely was a victory for our side.

The president also said this:

“Unlike World War II, Korea did not galvanize our country, these veterans did not return to parades. Unlike Vietnam, Korea did not tear at our country, these veterans did not return to protests.

“Among many Americans tired of war, there was, it seems, a desire to forget, to move on. Here in America, no war should ever be forgotten, no veteran should ever be overlooked.”

This veteran thanks you, Mr. President.