For over 40 years we have had a Volunteer Armed Services.
Most of us have gone about our safe and free lives…making money and talking care of our families and enjoying the fruits of our labors…while many thousands of brave, young men and women have gone to war on our behalf.
Most of us are so removed from the horrors of combat…that it is another world to us.
My father was a WWII Veteran and my stepfather was a Veteran of the Korean Conflict.
Mary Jane’s Dad, and his twin brother, were WWII Vets.
When I was in school, my cousin was drafted as was most young men…not long after High School Graduation.
I fully expected to be drafted…and just missed being so, due to the draft being discontinued in the early 1970’s.
The terrible effects of War are indescribable and not fully understood by anyone who has not experienced armed conflict.
The men and women that are returning with PTSD and missing limbs…and the increased rate of suicide in the Veteran Community…are illustrative of the Hell…that War is.
Have you ever known a Veteran that has seen Conflict?
They do not brag. They do not want to tell war stories and extoll the virtues of beating back the enemy.
Veterans are humble and quite and often they have a ‘long away stare’ in their eyes…when asked about their service…
Our region, Southern Illinois, has taken to flying WWII Veterans and others to Washington D.C. to visit the war memorials.
When they return…they are greeted with bands playing and scores of grateful people who are thanking them for their service.
This program is one of the greatest ways that I have witnessed…to thank our precious Veterans.
We are free and comfortable and secure in our wonderful Country…while many of our fellow citizens are in extreme danger and injury and death…to ensure our freedom.
Several years ago Southern Illinois University decided that it would close it’s doors when Veteran’s Day occurred between Monday – Friday…in honor of our citizens who have and are sacrificing the most for the rest of us.
I was never prouder of our University…than when they chose to recognize our wonderful Veterans!
In Flanders Fields
By: John McCrae
‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That marks our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.’