Monday, April 23, 2012
Honoring Our Military
In November 2011 I had the pleasure of attending a large gathering of local residents who assembled to honor the people who had served in our nation’s military forces. The event was interesting to me from several points of view.
For the record, I am 83 and served in the Army during the Korean War (Police Action) in 1950-51. My experience was largely uneventful. The fighting had been stabilized along the “38th parallel” at that point, so we were not fighting to take or hold territory, although there were some incidents in which Chinese units broke through the lines and threatened to overrun our position, which was close to the front line. And, there were a few air attacks, unfortunately sometimes by our own planes flying off nearby ships, when the pilots did not realize that they were bombing American troops. Many years later, I met a 2nd cousin, who had been one of those American pilots.
That said, over the years I’ve noticed that, other than the end of WWII, there has been remarkably little attention paid to our service people, with the exception of the Vietnam War in the 60s, when many returning servicemen and women were reviled by a segment of the American public, including such indignities and spitting on them. At that point, I was working as a CPA in Los Angeles and admit that I was bewildered by the behavior of many of those who opposed the war. I still don’t understand their attitude toward the military.
Since then, until recently, little attention has been paid to our service men and women. When the Korean War ended, I returned to the U.S. on a troop ship and was sent to Fort Ord, California, where we were processed and discharged in three days and given a train ticket to our home town(s). There was no fanfare as we boarded trains, and no one in my family had been notified. When I arrived at the front door of the home where my family lived and rang the door bell, it was a complete surprise. From that point, I was expected to get a job as soon as possible, and the fact that I had been in the service counted for little or nothing with potential employers, who seemed largely unaware that we had been in a war at all.
Only about 20% of the military serve in combat, the other 80% provide the many functions that are necessary to keep them clothed, fed, equipped, transported, etc.
So, when did the American public begin to actively honor our service men and women?
My sense is that it started when the War on Terror was launched with the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001.
I live in an area near an Air Force base (Vandenberg), and when my wife and I go shopping in the city where it is located, we often see personnel from the base, both men and women, I might add, and my reaction is generally one of appreciation for the fact that they are serving all of us.
It may be their chosen career, but I have a renewed respect for them and their service.
I also have a few friends who made a career of military service, for which I now feel a sense of gratitude. It’s something that crosses my mind literally every time I see them.
I have also noticed that some people have been meeting service men and women at the airports when they are returning home, which I find very encouraging. It’s worth noting, I think, that former president, George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, have been doing this, to the surprise of those service people they have welcomed home. More recently, we had a similar instance at the airport in Santa Barbara, when a highly regarded local dentist returned from duty in Afghanistan, for which he had volunteered and was greeted by a large group of local residents as he entered the terminal.
I’m pleased to see the change in attitude of many members of the public. From my perspective, it’s a welcome change.. Not everyone, mind you, but enough to make a difference, for which I am grateful.
To those who agree, thank you. To those who don’t, perhaps you should rethink your attitude.
© 2012 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Posted at 15:31 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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