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thedrifter
05-09-04, 10:30 AM
What is a Vet

Just A Common Veteran

I'm just a vet, but wanted to let you know the feelings I have about veterans.

The Eleventh day of the Eleventh month on the Eleventh hour, the 'War to
End All War" was declared over. What was called World War I was officially
ended. We all know it did not end all wars, it did not end wars involving
the Untied States. As I write this we are engaged in a war. The one common
thread of all of these wars is the Veterans.

These veterans are the men and women who have given to their country, some
have given the ultimate, their life, but all have given. I sit here and
reflect on what a veteran is and how he/she feels, and will try to give you
a glimpse inside the high walls involved with the sacrifices.

My 'war' has come and gone, to give it a name, Viet Nam, however the name
is just words describing a place and time. The feelings and emotions of war
are something very personal to each and every individual who have
participated.

War, at one time, was a glorious profession, men were trained from an early
age to participate in it, trained from puberty in the arts and glories of
war. There was a time that if your father was a warrior, you became a
warrior. Time progresses, technology progresses, people progress. Many of
the fathers who were warriors wanted to save their sons from the inner
pain, and to some horror and terror, of the memories. By the time World War
I came along, the glory was still there. Songs were written and popularized
by the artists of the time. Posters and art reflected the glory of war, the
warriors came home to great receptions, parties and revelries. The warriors
came back to the 'girl back home' that they had dedicated their mission to,
in addition to the dedication to the nation.
Sometime after World War II, this stopped. I have no finite reason for
this, however, the glory of war ceased. The men and women that served came
home to quiet train stations, quiet bus stations, quiet air ports, often
met only by family and loved ones, sometimes not even that pleasure.

Toward the end of the Viet Nam 'War' the warrior was welcomed home to
hostilities, groups of people who were against what the 'War' was about
confronted the warrior, not the politicians who precipitated the situation
we were placed in.

Each warrior handled this in his/her special way. We ALL rebelled in our
own way, some passively, by keeping all the feelings of hurt deeply
entombed inside their very inner self, a huge wall built around it to
protect the feeling. This was to protect the feeling, so no one could touch
it, stir up the hurt again, to be safe. Others took the feeling and used it
as a weapon to become an even better warrior, I believe it was said once to
turn the hurt and hate inside on itself to overcome it. Yet, others tried
to understand it, to soothe it and heal it.

To understand how a veteran feels, you must understand the 'common
veteran'. What I call the 'common veteran' is the individual who 'did
his/her job'. This is not the 'Hero', (though every veteran is a hero of
types) if you ask most veterans who the Hero's were, they will say, 'The
Hero's never came home'. The Hero is the one out of the thousands that did
something dramatic and were noticed. The common veteran was the one who
carried the rifle, drove the truck, fueled the aircraft, plotted the
mission, pushed the paper, gave the inoculations, spent hours on guard
duty, and directed traffic. In other words, the common veteran is the
veteran who did the jobs that needed being done.

Hero's are not born or made, they are extraordinary people in unique
circumstances that reacted in a way, usually placing their own being in
danger to help others. Anybody in the correct situation could be a hero.
Now in no way does this take away the glory bestowed on those who have
honored themselves in these acts. I want to honor each and every common
veteran who was not placed in a situation that resulted in such glory.

Every veteran I have talked to would have loved to have been glorified in
some respect for the duties they did, and each and every one did go beyond
the expected in whatever they did. Every common veteran would have given
anything to have been the one to have saved others. Every common veteran
wants to be recognized as one who made a difference.

The common veteran DID do that, and this Veterans Day, the Eleventh Month,
Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour, I will take a moment and reflect on my
contributions, and reflect on every other veteran who contributed. Each of
these veterans is a hero in my book. Had they not done their job, I could
not have done MY job, and my job contributed to those who eventually got
the recognition.

I have my demons, as many others do. I have sleep sweats, I remember those
that did not come back, both physically or mentally, I remember things
based on smells, sights or sounds. I'm just a common veteran. I wanted to
be a 'John Wayne' or 'Audie Murphy'. I never had the chance or
circumstance, and to be honest, don't know how I would have reacted had I
been placed in that situation, it would have to have been acted out and
see, live die or be heroic.

This Veterans Day I will remember those Veterans of ALL wars, past and
present. I will make it my goal to shake a common veteran's hand, hug a
veteran (and not specifically a combat veteran) welcome a veteran home. In
addition, I will make a personal resolution to greet and welcome back a
veteran who may now, or in the future, be put in harms way, regardless if
they are combat arms, aviation, support. Regardless if Army, Navy, Marines,
Air Force or Coast Guard. These people will suffer as I have, they will
have memories that cannot be erased, have feelings that cannot be repressed
forever, however, they will have one piece of information, I will be here,
as long as I am breathing, to offer my shoulder, my hand, my ear, my vision
to let them know they can speak, and know I've been there. Just as they
have, I have been there, know the unlabeled feelings they have, the void in
their inner selves, the inability to tell anyone, 'because they don't
understand'. I may not understand the specific circumstance, but I do
understand. I know the black void, I know the feeling of not being able to
totally love. To cherish the feeling of another's touch.

As I close this article, I bring myself to full attention, my older body
slower, coming to, my right arm coming up to a salute, a salute to the
common veteran, to all veterans.

Before I go, just a few words to the families, your loved one may come home
'not quite the way he/she left'. It is true, they have seen and done things
that have changed them, be patient, love them, love them as you have never
loved them before, they will need every molecule you have to offer. They
may seem distant, they are, and they have seen and experienced much in the
time gone. It doesn't matter if they were 'in the rear with the gear' or
'out humpin the boonies' each will have changed, war does that, regardless
of where served. This is the same person you allowed to go, and deep inside
that same person is there, though modified somewhat. Love this person, love
them like no tomorrow, do not let them become a statistic, as they will
need everything you have to offer.

I guess I have rambled on too long here, feeling the negative feelings of
being a vet, offering advice from the other side, I am nothing but a common
veteran, one who has felt the blackness of being a veteran, one who still
has backsliding to the darkness, one who can only offer an observation, and
a salute.

Thank You

Ellie

Saurian'sEdge
05-09-04, 07:54 PM
Semper Fi