Veterans’ Day 2003

Yesterday belonged to the Corps. It was the 228th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and it belonged to Marines past and present, family of Marines, and friends of Marines. It was our day.

Today is different. Today is Veterans’ Day, and if you woke up this morning and drank a cup of coffee, or read the morning newspaper, or mowed your lawn or bought a candy bar at the local 7-Eleven, you have a Veteran to thank for it. If you live in this country and don’t remember every day that the freedom you enjoy was not free, you are horribly wrong.

I’ve spent 21 days of the last two years in the U.S. When I left for Marine Security Guard school on 29 September 2001, the country swelled with patriotism, pride, and dedication to right the wrongs of terrorists. We were a country on mission. When I returned in June of this year, things were radically different. There were regularly scheduled protests in the streets of Santa Barbara, California. Gone were the ribbons and scarce were the American flags. And what of the protesters? No one confronted me in the street as I walked a few blocks in uniform to a graduation. No one spit at me and called me a baby killer. They were silent. They waved no signs declaring bring the troops home or remember those who have fallen. No signs reading God bless the USA either. But what I did see was statements about greed and wealth, politics and oil. To the protesters, it was all about why they thought we were there fighting and not the fact that we were there regardless of the reasons.

I don’t believe that war is necessarily the answer to everything, but I do believe that a big enough stick is persuasion enough to sway anyone’s course of action. I signed a contract and George W. signs my checks, so I pretty much do what he says. End of story. Veterans don’t become veterans by going to college during wartime or running to Canada (no offense to Canadians), they become veterans by going wherever, whenever, their country calls them. If they didn’t, I can guarantee you’d be drinking tea at 3:00pm every day and playing cricket instead of football during Thanksgiving this year. In fact, if not for our veterans, I can also make a safe bet we’d all have blond hair and blue eyes, wearing jack boots, and speaking German right about now. If not that, the next logical scenario would be Mom and Dad Smith sitting down to a nice meal of sushi and kelp with a extra helping of rice and soy sauce. Get the picture? No one said you have to support the war. But if you don’t support the troops, you can take your tea cups, jack boots, and soy sauce and get the hell out. Take today and remember how everything around you really came to be.

And thank a veteran.

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The author.Born in the year of the Dragon, the author grudgingly accepts the fact he has too many interests and not enough time. A cyclist as long as he can remember, an avid yet inconsistent writer since age eleven, and a U.S. Marine since age twenty-one, the author also adds peak bagging, diving, snowboarding, and computers to his list of interests. Incidentally, he is aware of his inability to make a living from any but the Corps. The author accepts this as fact and remains optimistic. Feel free to drop him a line.

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