Veterans Day 2020… really?
Can’t help wondering if Veterans Day will fade away as has Columbus Day or the Star-Spangled Banner at an NFL game. What has happened to us? It’s November and getting cool or colder in the Northeast. The glorious colors of October deteriorated as each leaf drops and curls up … only to be raked up and burned. No, that’s not allowed any more. But I still do it, it kills tick eggs.
Since Veterans Day (this year) is in the middle of the week, no 3-day week-end. Don’t despair, Thanksgiving will still give almost everyone a 5-day vacation (except the cooks). But Veterans Day? We can’t even gather and re-enforce patriotism. Do we celebrate only because its marked on our calendars?
Remember when it was Armistice Day and we wore poppies. Boy Scout troops used to walk in a parade beside VFW and American Legion vets and high school bands turn out to play patriotic tunes in harmony with high stepping pretty cheerleaders. And because the kids were there so were their parents. Now high schools are shut down and the Scouting Organization is much maligned. Then after the parade was over, the instruments packed away, the old veterans limped away and the kids ran and played … a few of us still gathered and remembered when. When we were young and strong and answered the “call”. As 11th Cav veteran, Roger Boyce, told youngsters in Minnesota last year, “we showed up.”
The veterans of the Revolutionary War showed up along the stone fences of Massachusetts with flintlock hunting rifles. And after that, in 1812, 1846, 1861, 1898, and 1917, “their fathers had, as their fathers had before.” Jump to the 2ndWorld War and the day after Pearl Harbor, our grandfathers and great-grandfathers showed up at the recruiting stations waiting in long lines; for all too many … to sign a death certificate. In Okinawa alone, it was common place that a Marine Corps company landed with a compliment of 235 officers and men, were re-enforced over a three-month period with 250 replacements, only to come back with less than 50 survivors. Same, same for Iwo Jima, Peleliu, Saipan, Guadalcanal.
The surviving veterans of Korea will ever be thankful for tootsie rolls, the only food they could rely upon during their Chosen Reservoir winter campaign. And we, the survivors of the heat and monsoons of Southeast Asia showed up in helicopters and ACAVs, wearing jungle boots to stride through elephant grass, rice paddies and triple canopy jungles only to come home to scorn and spittle. Most recently, troops showed up in desert sands and sterile plains and rugged mountain ranges to chase down terrorists who threaten not only our comfort but the lives and security of millions of other cultures whose languages we can’t understand.
Some few will continue to show up; “those few, those precious few” will continue to fight for America and our comfortable way of life. They will continue to serve … and die … and should be remembered. They are our veterans. Less than one percent of our nation … but that one percent shows up. So, despite the lock down, despite the scare, a few of us veterans will still show up at The Wall on Veterans Day; stand tall at the Iwo Jima Memorial the day before - at Arlington National Cemetery or Indiantown Gap or Andersonville or the Alamo. So, my brother and sister veterans, my brothers in arms, I won’t forget you this Veterans Day or any other day. You are my band of brothers, you are my companions and when I die, I pray, I’ll be … “buried among soldiers, please, … because I miss their company.”
Blandin (Bill) Karabinos
Chaplain, 11th ACVVC
Vietnam: 2/11 ACR Oct71-Mar 72:
229th ASB (1st Cav), Apr-Aug. 72;
ASE III, Sept-Oct. 72.