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TomorrowÃ‚Â is, of course, Veterans Day, and today is the 231st birthday of the United States Marines Corps.
I never served in the Armed Forces, but have been lucky enough to have made some good friends who are veterans or active in the military. Writing my column has allowed me the opportunity to correspond with many of these fine men and women stationed all over the world, and develop a deep admiration and respect for what they do, and, most importantly,Ã‚Â why they do it.
I’ve had countless family members who have served as well. MyÃ‚Â dad served in AlaskaÃ‚Â in the 1950′s, during which time hisÃ‚Â colleaguesÃ‚Â would have given their lives not only forÃ‚Â their country, but also to see the sun, not to mentionÃ‚Â a woman –Ã‚Â even from afar.
My cousin Steve, a proud Marine,Ã‚Â gave his life in Vietnam, my Uncle Steve flew B-52′s and subsequently worked at the Pentagon during the Reagan administration,Ã‚Â and my cousin Mike who’s now stationed in lovely Djibouti, Africa, just sent me a postcard from a place that, for many of the rest of us would have simply read “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” but instead sportedÃ‚Â a nice note and asked us to say ‘hi’ to a few people.
But thisÃ‚Â sums upÃ‚Â the substance and characterÃ‚Â of the U.S. military.
A few years ago, I wrote a “thank you” note of sorts that I like to post on Veteran’s Day. I’m speaking on behalf of some of you, so I hope you don’t mind:
Dear United States Armed Forces,
Not wanting the current political distractions and idiotic displays of “botched jokes,” not to mention lobotomies, to be misconstrued as a genuine lack of appreciation by the American people, we thought it necessary to offer you a quick note of “thanks.”
Thanks to you and your predecessors (and a little to the fact that the British insisted on wearing bright red self-targetingÃ‚Â uniformsÃ‚Â into battle), we’re free. Throughout our history, you’ve fought for, and won, independence. You’ve helped put an end to slavery, oppression, genocide and all manner of craziness put forth by every spiral-eyed deranged dictator and tin-potÃ‚Â wingnut on the planet.
You can be sent to fight in some of the biggest dung-heap, dirt-bucket and generally scummy areas on the face of the earth Ã¢â‚¬â€œ places that make a septic tank look like the Presidential Suite at the Bellagio. You perform tasks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from the incredibly dangerous to the intolerably mundane Ã¢â‚¬â€œ without public complaint or plea for recognition.
You’re often called upon to take on unhinged nut cases Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the aberrant likes of whom may make you long for the stability of Courtney Love Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and dive head first into a big bowl of “Crackpot Bouillabaisse” against knee-jerk fascists, totalitarian fist wavers and nut cases engaged in a fierce game of “Virgin-Quest.” All this is offset by the lousy pay.
What must make it even more difficult is that, on top of all this, you endure harsh domestic criticism from people who have no idea what they’re talking about. The Hollywood left is almost as famous for this as they are for their movie roles.
Your critics in Hollywood may be against all wars, but they also can’t help but notice that films about your battles make great box-office draw. To them, wars are unnecessary, gross injustices to humanity Ã¢â‚¬â€œ immoral and illegal schemes that serve only the selfish and greedy whims of old white men. Oh, by the way, they also happen to be great topics from which they can reap a fortune for themselves, DreamWorks SKG and Paramount.
Hollywood owes you a huge debt of gratitude, and probably even a large pile of royalty money Ã¢â‚¬â€œ an appreciation you’re not likely to get until the day North Korean tanks roll into Rob Reiner’s foyer.
What must make your job even more difficult is that, on top of all this,Ã‚Â you’re exposed to those vacuous entities who say you and your bosses have no idea what you’re talking about because you don’t get your information from theÃ‚Â biased mainstream press. Sure — and Neil Armstrong couldn’t wait to get back to Earth so he could see the cover of the New York Times and learn all about what it was like to be on the moon.
You alsoÃ‚Â get bashed by unappreciative morons in CongressÃ‚Â while you’re not around to defend yourselves because you’re elsewhere defending them. There are people in every line of work who probably aren’t fit for their jobs, but is the U.S. Congress really the place to start arguing percentages?
Despite the recent distractions, know that your work and sacrifice are deeply appreciated. Not a day goes by when many Americans don’t take some time to remember those who give everything so others can have everything Ã¢â‚¬â€œ those of you who are in what can be the most horrific and violent, and yet noble and compassionate, of professions: the U.S. Armed Forces.
Happy Veteran’s Day to all current and active servicemembers, and Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps!
Plenty of Americans
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