Wednesday, November 11, 2009

VETERANS DAY THOUGHTS

Every year Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson invites the veterans to the dealership for a luncheon on Veterans Day. The process is simple and without fanfare. There is no huge advertising campaign or hand clapping. The people who are part of this business are "recognizing" those who served in the military and those who still do. I am not a person who usually participates in functions and I have not participated in these luncheons on previous occasions. But, today I was hungry and I decided to walk over to the dining area where the veterans were clustered in conversation. I filled my plate with food and sat down at a corner table alone, as usual. As I ate I scanned the room and what I saw brought me to a sudden realization. Everywhere I looked were old men. I was surrounded by old men. Many had hats with the names of countries on the front. Vietnam, Korea and the word veteran. Some hats indicated branch of service; Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Was it that long ago? All I see are old men. That makes me , well; I guess that makes me old too. It doesn't seem that long ago though. The fact is that it really was that long ago. I sat in silence eating and looking around me. I was not only looking; I was seeing. I saw old men with wrinkles on their faces. I looked at their eyes. Those were eyes that have seen countless military operations and memorized things that still lie deep in their hearts and minds that surface occasionally to cut them to their souls. Those eyes have collected memories both good and bad about friend and foe, and many memories best left forgotten but will not stay dormant. Yes; these were the warriors of America who served their country when they were asked. For no apparent reason my eyes felt a pressure behind them and a tear rolled down my cheek at the corner of each eye. Now what was all this about? I dried my eyes with a napkin and glanced left and right to see who might be looking. Then it started again. What is this?!! All of a sudden I knew what it was. All in this room were brothers. We were partners in the struggle for freedom a long time ago. The tears were tears of pride. Proud to take part in the struggle to keep our nation free. Proud of my heritage. Proud to be American and willing, if need be, to surrender life and limb for her. I shared this room, this small period of time today, with brothers who at one time combined their thoughts and purpose to achieve one thing. That one thing was to protect our country from the scars of Tierney. And together, unknowing to each other, we remembered the faces of our fallen friends; young faces from the past; boys who did sacrifice everything for the liberty we enjoy Today we are governed by highly educated politicians who, hopefully, are guiding our country down a path that will eventually lead to prosperity and a continuation of the freedoms and liberties we enjoy. I'm not sure of their methods or their intent. They are smarter than me. But one thing I can not endure to hear is a politician making the statement "not one more needless death of a soldier need occur." Not one more needless death of a soldier need occur. "We must get out of Afghanistan now". What does that mean? Does it mean that all the previous deaths of soldiers in the war was unnecessary? What a horrible thing to say from a position of power. Look at history a second. French and Indian War - We won Revolutionary War - We won Civil War - An inner conflict that eventually lead to our current success. But we collectively won WW1 - We won WW2 - We won THEN Korea - split country (called a conflict) Vietnam - split country (called a conflict) Do you see the trend? We now are in Afghanistan. Guess what will happen. The top US general has sent his requirement for 40,000 troops. We have a president who has thought about it for months. By the time he gets around to making a decision on the request for more troops; the situation will need to be re-evaluated all over again. This is a military requirement that is being decided by a political mind. But, who is out there on the line? The sons and daughters of liberty are out there applying pressure to the forces of evil. They are waiting for our fearless commander and chief to make a decision. I fear our current leadership does not have the backbone to actually command our forces to "win". I think today's wars are fought politically and soldiers are the pawns on chessboards in the war rooms of nations who are dicing for political advantage over one and other. It is a shame. But, the individual warrior has self pride in his efforts and accomplishments. He fights for his ideals, his family and country. He maintains the struggle for freedom and democracy because he is an American and he is a brother in arms to those who fought before him. They fight for success; never defeat. No stalemate. The politician can never understand this concept. But, the American people can rest easy for they are protected by their own sons and daughters who wear the uniforms of America. They struggle against our enemies on foreign soil in order to keep our America secure and free. They are keeping the filthy feet of Tierney from touching our sacred country. Yep; the tears are tears of pride. And I wasn't the only one. I not only look. I see.