Technically, active duty servicemembers are Veterans. And they are acknowledged as such during the parades and the ‘we thank you’ promotions at various restaurants.
When I think of Veterans, though, I think of people who have quietly gone about their ordinary lives, rightfully proud of their service. I think of my Dad, who is proud of his short time in service. I think of My G’s dad and grandather and uncles and cousins and their long lineage of service. I think of Brother Sam at my church, wearing his Class A’s on Memorial Day and looking just as dapper as he must have looked when he first joined the service 50 years ago. I think of my stepmother and my friends Penny, and Anne, and Maggie – all women who joined and had to prove themselves in what is still today more of a man’s world. I think of my husband’s and my friend, Desiree, who is still active duty in an Army of great change.
When I thank a vet, I do not thank my husband because his service is ongoing. I thank these other people in my life.
I just don’t think of my husband as a Veteran. We’ve been too busy being Active Duty. The uniform isn’t worn for special days – it is an everyday thing. He wears it more often than he wears his blue jeans! He doesn’t go to parades or special events for vets because he is usually finishing up with some field duty or other work that the military is still requiring of him. Or he’s simply tired and wants the quiet of home.
Next year, though, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we will have been a civilian family for a few months. I don’t even know what that will feel like. This is his last Veteran’s Day as an active duty Soldier. Eventually, God willing, he will be one of those older vets with their service pins on their caps, shakily saluting the flag as it goes past. That is my fantasy for the future.
Today, he simply took off his boots and hung his uniform at the end of 24 hour duty. He slid into bed at dawn, until the next time. Next year, I can hug my husband and “thank a vet”.
So what am I thankful for this 11th day of the 11th month? I am thankful for all of those who remember. I am thankful for the veterans of wars long-fought and long ago who are still with us. I am thankful for these men and women and their dedicated service.