Thoughts on Veterans Day

 

Last updated 11/13/2019 at 2:37pm

Today as I write this it is Veterans Day. Our particular school does not let kids have the day off. Why? I have to wonder. This town is nothing if not military; we have how many stations or bases? I think we have gone astray from the honor and distinction we should acknowledge. Some things are just worth it, and those who served our wonderful country deserve our pause and our respect.

My grandfather served as a sailor. My father a pilot for the Army. My son, a Navy veteran now, as well. I am so very proud of them.

One thing I was not prepared for was the difference in my son when he returned home. No one tells you how they change. Oh, I expected my son who left at 19 years old to return a man, but he did not come home alone. He carried with him not just the fun stories of drunken sailors and their antics, or the wonderful places he saw that were exotic, full of beauty, history, and great food. No, he also carried darkness.

As time passed his darkness has become more apparent. I remember phone calls from ports where he could call and he would tell me how his ship broke Naval records dropping ordinance. But he would also tell me without as much pride, how every jet he sent up from the flight deck went out fully loaded with bombs but came back to him empty. He would pause and tell me how he knew he was killing people every time he sent a jet up. He did not speak like that often; he was proud of his job and believed in the mission at hand. He performed his duty with pride and made great lifelong friends.


Right after he got home to us, two pilots from his squadron were killed. He took it so hard. He knew them and said he felt like had he still been out there they may not have died. I know this guilt is common, but he took it pretty hard. His mind was scattered and he lacked focus; he appeared fine and in control, but I could see the distraction in him - his panic at times, too.

We found out that he had lost a lot of his hearing, and that it contributed to his confusion and misunderstandings, but did not seem to help his flash anger. He is a young man with hearing aids now and an unknown mass in his knee that the V.A. wants to look at with an MRI, though the red tape seems endless. They did provide the hearing aids rather quickly, to be fair. His back is and has been a problem since early in his Navy stint but went with a day of rest and some ibuprophen as prescribed. It is after his service that he now needs more support. We are only now, years later, hearing of an accident onboard the flight deck. The slack line broke and took a fellow airman's legs while on tour. Images like that are truly hard to be rid of.

My son used to be the most groomed young man ever. He would fuss over his hair and his fashion more than most young ladies, I think. Now he is thin and unkept without much esteem. At age 26, he is still battling something I may never understand.

I cannot imagine what a solider on the ground in combat has seen or experienced, but maybe they all need love and hugs now that they are home. I hope they all feel safe and that you as their family honor their service and their sacrifice, because it is more than time spent with family during a holiday. It is something we should be thankful, that because of them, we do not understand.

God bless all those who have served and are currently serving.

 

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