Why I Am So Grateful For Our Veterans

V day 3Happy Veterans Day, Modern Philosophers!

I made sure the flag was flying proudly from the porch of The House on the Hill before I left for my morning run.

Our Veterans deserve to be celebrated, remembered, honored, and admired.  I hate that Veterans Day is no longer a day off for everyone, and I’m not sure why society has allowed that to happen.

I thought I’d honor this Holiday with a different kind of story.  I don’t like to open up the vault and reveal too much about my past, but I want to tonight.

My father served in the Marine Corps during World War II and was stationed in Japan.  He never talked about his time in the Marines, and I had to resort to reading The Corps series by W.E.B. Griffin to get a better understanding of what my Dad’s life as a Marine might have been like.

This story sums up a more personal reason as to why I admire our Veterans so much…

I was a senior a NYU, spending Winter Break in the dorm with my friends.  J was there, she was still just my girlfriend, and had no idea she’d grow up to become my ex-wife.

CNNWe were in my room, the TV was on in the background, and it was a gathering of some of my closest friends at NYU.

That was when the TV screen turned green and grabbed our attention.

The Gulf War had kicked off in earnest, and it was happening live on television, as if it were a sporting event.

Most of us in the dorm room were males, a few months from graduating.

Suddenly, our country was at war.  Right there on the TV.

I don’t know what my friends’ immediate thoughts were, by mine were of fear, panic, and wondering how soon it was going to be before I got drafted.

I was from a generation that was too young to remember the Vietnam War happening, but had learned all about it by watching movies.

We knew how the draft worked.  We knew what it was like to be yanked out of college and sent halfway around the world to fight in a foreign land.  We knew that so many people our age went to war and returned home in body bags.

Vietnam War movies made me scared to death of what the images on my TV screen meant for my future, one that two minutes ago had been so bright.

V day 1I was about to graduate from the best Film School in the country, I was in love, and I was going to write amazing screenplays that would win me Oscars.

But now, because some madman in Iraq had decided to invade Kuwait, my future was going to be spent in fatigues, marching across a desert, and trying to stay alive for however many years this war dragged out.

My life was over.  I wasn’t a Marine like my father was before me.  I was a chicken #$%^ who had no interest whatsoever in going to war.

I knew I wasn’t a soldier.

I was a writer, not a hero.

I had a mini panic attack and seriously wondered if I could convince J to run off to Canada with me until the war was over.

Everything I knew about war and being a soldier I’d learned from movies and books.  I didn’t need to be a genius to realize I was not cut out to defend this country.

Then the war was over.

Technology had changed the way wars were fought.  America was never going to have another Vietnam.  There will probably never again be a reason for a draft.

Soldiers defend our country voluntarily.  No one is shipped off against his will.

V Day 2The panic I felt while watching the Gulf War begin on my TV, made me understand that anyone who joins the Armed Forces and defends this nation is a true hero.

I did not, and will never have what it takes to be an American Hero.

Thank you, Veterans.

I could never do what you do, and I am incredibly grateful for your service.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  You will be in my prayers as well…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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8 Responses to Why I Am So Grateful For Our Veterans

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  2. I have three uncles who served. two in the gulf war and one in Vietnam. the one from Vietnam war, as we have been told, came back an entirely different person. i only knew him as the one who kept the house dark, cussed at everyone, verbally abused my cousins and had no real friends. i wouldn’t say i dislike him but i didn’t wanna be around him. one day, our aunt told us his story. he was one of those guys who controlled a machine gun on the side of helicopters. One day, as they were dropping off some people, a group of Vietcongs appeared out of nowhere, ambushing them. All the men they dropped off were killed and all he can remember was just firing away his machine gun and seeing all those people he shot drop dead. since then, i understood. they didn’t have a diagnosis for what he had back then but now we call his condition ptsd. he of course denies having it. anyways to all the veterans who have sacrificed a lot and made it possible for us to enjoy our freedom, THANK YOU.

  3. The Cutter says:

    I feel much the same way

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