My son never got to really meet his grandfather. That’s something that I don’t want to accept but I have to. But on June 12, 1996, my dad suddenly passed away from a heart attack. Connor was 10 1/2 months old.
I do have a wonderful picture of my father holding my son. It sits upon my dresser and it always will, whenever and wherever I have a dresser.
Last year on Veteran’s Day, when he was in sixth grade his teacher asked the kids in his class to stand if they knew someone who had served in the military. Connor, knowing that his grandfather had served in World War II, stood up for Philip A. Trenn Jr. He served as in the U.S. Army in the Aleutians.
Many of my generation, with the exception of those that served, quite often never understood the concept of military service. We respected it, but it was often a somewhat distant idea. Our fathers and uncles may have served in World War ll or Korea, and we may have marched in a few parades if we were in Scouting. We knew it was noble. But we were also part the post-Vietman era, where military service was somewhat unfairly and unfortunately derided. To me, this was a disgrace. (I once considered going to OCS for the Marine Corps and people asked me why I wanted to kill people, or for that matter, to die).
The reality is that it is those very veterans that serve that keep us safe. Simply by their service. And at times, horrible sacrifice.
As the World War II generation began passing away in greater numbers, their sons and daughters began to really understand what they had accomplished. We watched Saving Private Ryan and the Band of Brothers. We read The Greatest Generation. Sure, there had been plenty of war movies and novels and other types of media devoted to the “men in uniform”, but many younger people saw them as action films. Just like many today see military-oriented video games as fun and exciting.
Korean War veterans have never really gotten their due. They’re often meshed in with World War ll vets as the two wars were relatively close together timewise or they are meshed with those of the Vietnam War as we were fighting Asian communists from the northern part of a country. For many, the Korean War was the TV show M*A*S*H*.
In the eighties, we began to understand that Vietnam veterans, too, were noble. And were worthy of every bit of respect as those in previous generations. Long, long overdue.
But now it’s time to honor and thank a new generation of veterans. Those that are serving as we speak. Before they are forgotten.
I came upon this story in the Washington Post. It’s about a new organization for Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans, the IAVA. These young men and women may be spending early adulthood in a foreign hositle land, risking their lives. They are leaving loved ones behind here in the state for months upon months. Thousands have come back injured, physically, emotionally, or both. At times to horrible conditions because they aren’t a priority. Sure, we may appreciate them in a generic sense, but we then forget and go on with out lives. While we can’t honor them everyday. But we need to remain vigilant, as a society, and to ALWAYS return to honor to them that they have given to us.
I’m starting today. How about you?