Veterans Day, 2009

Today is a day set aside for honoring war veterans.  Every war veteran has already received the biggest honor he or she could ever get: surviving the war. Every war veteran has also received the biggest curse he or she could ever get: surviving the war.

I was never one to organize kids into groups that sent toothbrushes and greeting cards to soldiers fighting overseas. I’m glad other mothers did, and do. My focus with my child was always on the casualties of war. I discussed, and still discuss, these kinds of things:

  • War is hell.
  • Innocent people die in wars.
  • Soldiers suffer physical, psychological, and emotional damage as a result of wars.
  • War devastates countries where people live.
  • Real soldiers are very much like toy soldiers, being manipulated by others.

The best thing we can do for veterans, in my opinion, is to end wars. I dislike the fact that so many historical periods are defined by wars. When my daughter was enamored of the American Girl historical fiction series, we would refer to Felicity as the “Revolutionary War girl” and Molly as the “World War II” girl.

I do not think of my daughter as the “War on Terror” girl, and neither does she.  I do not think of myself as the “Vietnam War girl.”

I hope all the veterans can be proud of their service today, and then go on to think of themselves as something other than a war-related person. I thank them for doing a job I never want to do, but I see them as more than soldiers. I see them as fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and cousins and house painters and truck drivers and singers and business owners and cat lovers and baseball players.

And peacemakers.

Crowds including children dancing and carrying flags of Allied nations during a spontaneous celebration of Armistice Day & the end of World War I. Location: Paris, France. Date taken: November 11, 1918.

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