Veterans Day 2017

Our poet laureate, George Harris sent this piece to me last week.  As usual, George’s way with words and personal experiences greatly contribute to this blog.  George, thank you for your service!

Veterans Day 2017 by George Harris

They’re all gone now, those doughboys of 100 years ago with their wrapped leggings and their soup bowl helmets.  They were our grandparents or perhaps great grand grandparents eager to go vanquish the Hun as the Germans were called.  George M. Cohan was just sitting down to write, “Over There” to send our troops off with a rousing song.  Little did they know they would be facing machine guns and gas; mustard and chlorine gas that would burn their skin and their lungs.  Mr. Ramsey, our Assistant Coach and Driver Education Teacher, had bleached spots on his face and in his hair from gas attacks.  He never talked about it but we all knew what it was.

We were still enough of an agrarian nation that many of those young men and women, yes there were women in World War I, literally laid down their plowshares and picked up arms to join the British and French in The Great War-it didn’t become World War I until 23 years later when we became involved in another world war.  Like many wars, The Great War was being fought much like previous wars-troops were massed and then launched against the enemy much in the same way they had been in our own Civil War and the Spanish-American War.  But there were two big differences-machine guns and chemical warfare.  The United Kingdom lost nearly 750,000 killed while France lost 1,150,000.  Russia, Romania, Italy, Serbia and some others lost something over 2,000,000.  When the end came in 1918, we had lost nearly, 54,000.  And this doesn’t count deaths from disease, particularly the Great Flu Epidemic and the loss of civilian lives.  On the Allied Side alone, perhaps 10 million people died.  And among the Central Powers another 8.3 million military and civilians died.  This war was one of the costliest in our history.

What did we learn from this war?  Perhaps nothing because just 23 years later we found ourselves engaged in another war on a global scale that ended with the new capability of world destruction when the new atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Now we find ourselves involved in a new type of war-a war against terrorism, a war that seems endless.  Now millions of young men and women have served our Nation; hundreds of thousands have been wounded and, depending on who you ask and how they count, perhaps something on the order of 74,000 to 80,000 have died in the wars in the Middle East.

What is my point in all of this?  Although not much in favor at the moment, General Robert E. Lee once noted, “It is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it.”  And thus it is.  In the 241 years of our independence, over 4,000,000 young men and women have been sacrificed on the altars of the gods of war.  And we continue to offer them up with no end in sight.  Freedom has a terrible price and it should always be remembered that war is the absolute failure of diplomacy paid for with the blood of our young men and women.

Perhaps Dwight D. Eisenhower, president and leader of the world’s greatest armed force in World War II said it best:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

— Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

Veterans Day November 11, 2016


To all our veterans–thank you for your service.   Any time someone signs his or her name on the dotted line and joins one of the branches of the US military, he or she puts his or herself in harms way.  We should never forget that sacrifice.


We can best honor our veterans by insisting that they receive decent medical services in a timely fashion.  Our nation has not always succeeded in this endeavor.  We also need to ensure that all our veterans have a place to live and enough food to eat.  Our efforts should be directed towards Congress.  But….

If we know of a veteran who is having a difficult time, we need to kick in and be resourceful.  Local community services and churches provide meals and often temporary shelter.  For that matter, if you know of a homeless veteran, how about packing a lunch for him a couple days a week.  Every little bit helps.  We can all do our part!

Meanwhile, to all our veterans in the family–Carpe Diem!  Today is your day.  Live it up!  Again, thank you for your service!


Vets dump pill containers in front of White House


A couple dozen servicemen and women marched to the White House this Veterans Day and dumped a large box of empty pill containers, calling on the president and other federal officials to make medical marijuana accessible to veterans.

“Here’s what the over-medication of our veterans looks like,” they said as they spilled the canisters onto the floor. “We don’t want it.”

The veterans and protesters — affiliated with various veteran and marijuana advocacy organizations — argued that Veterans Affairs hospitals are over-medicating veterans, prescribing them a large number of psychoactive medications to treat PTSD.  They marched from McPherson Square to the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, then to the White House, some smoking joints along the way, which is illegal in D.C.

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More killing at Fort Hood

This video was recorded fairly soon after the incident. Much has been learned since then.

A shooting at the Fort Hood military installation in Texas has left at least four people dead, including the gunman, and more than a dozen were injured, according to authorities.

The gunman, identified by multiple government sources as Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, took his own life, officials said.

Lopez, 33, of Kileen, Tex., was wearing an Army uniform at the time of the shooting, Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told reporters.

Four people were taken to Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Tex., and another two are being brought there, said Glen Couchman, the facility’s chief medical officer. Their injuries that “range from stable to quite critical,” he said.

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Are we destined to always fight the last war?


Today I  got a weekly email from my congressman, Rob Wittman.  He was paying tribute to the veterans.  His email contained the following paragraph:

This past year, I had the pleasure of
visiting servicemembers deployed in
Afghanistan, and forward deployed in
Singapore, Australia, Germany, Italy and
Turkey. I recently spent a day in the woods
with some of our Marines training at
Quantico. On November 2, I met with veterans
who serve on my Veterans’ Advisory Council
and veterans of the Korean War. Our nation
has learned much from what happened at the
beginning of the Korean War. At that time,
our country was not prepared to go to war.
We did not ensure that our forces were ready
for combat and we sent under-trained and
under-equipped Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and
Marines into harm’s way. From that
experience,  harsh lessons were learned that
should direct our current and future
decision makers about investing in our
service members.

I was dumbfounded.  I was barely even on this earth when  the Korean War started. However, I wondered to myself, how on earth could things have deteriorated so fast in less than 5 years.  Weren’t we in tip top shape as a nation after WWII?  Didn’t we emerge  as  the most powerful nation in the world?  Well Hell, I didn’t know so I thought I’ll ask a vet.  I emailed George Harris.  For those of you who don’t know, he is a Korean War vet.  He went in when he was knee-high to a grasshopper, right out of Oklahoma.

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Cup of Brandy: One Last Toast


An anonymous guest poster via email:

On Tuesday, in Fort Walton Beach , Florida , the surviving Doolittle Raiders gathered publicly for the last time.

They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States . There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation’s history. The mere mention of their unit’s name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans.

Now only four survive.

After Japan ‘s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around.

Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried — sending such big, heavy bombers from a carrier.

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Neil Armstrong dead at age 82

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, is dead at age 82.  He is best remembered for his famous words:

“One small step for man…one giant leap for mankind.”

He had had heart surgery 3 weeks ago and was thought to be recovering without complications.

He had a long, distinguished career in the NASA Space Program.  He commanded the Apollo 11 mission and landed on the moon in July 1969.  He was truly a great American hero.  Many of us remember where we were when we sat breathlessly and heard those words….one small step for man.  No one today can imagine our excitement and yes, fear, for those astronauts.  We Americans were so proud that summer of 1969 when much of America had been divided by the Vietnam War. Neil Armstrong and those other astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, united the nation like no one else could.

Please leave your own tributes to Neil Armstrong. Neil slipped the surly bonds of earth today…


Walt’s “Buddies”


Happy Memorial Day weekend. I usually overdo it with my rememberances so please just bear with me.  I love Memorial Day.  I love the sound of Rolling Thunder and I love to grab hold of that American feeling and hold it as tightly as I can.  I love a weekend that forces us to say thank you to those who are dead and gone and were it not for this national day of thanksgiving, might be forgotten.  I love the PBS Memorial Day tribute on Sunday nights each Memorial Day weekend.  I like that Memorial Day forces me to think and yes, shed a few tears.  I owe it to my country.

 People sometimes confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. I think that is a forgivable sin, actually. Memorial Day grew out of Decoration Day, which started during the Civil War to honor those who had fallen. Many boys were buried in far off states and the good people of the towns where they lay cleaned up the graves and decorated with flowers on Decoration Day.

In Virginia, perhaps they weren’t as charitable at northern grave sites except they thought of their own sons, husbands brothers, fathers and uncles lying in some distant land and suddenly, it didn’t matter whose side the soldier had been fighting for.

I would like to thank my dad, a vet who made it home from WWII, for teaching me to remember those who have fallen, not just on Memorial Day, but every day. It’s hard to go through Virginia without passing one of the many cemeteries lined with Civil War dead. There is a particular one, on route 250 as you head into Staunton where I first learned about recognition- Staunton National Cemetery.

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11-11-11 Thank you for your service



The 11th hour on the 11th day of of the 11th month in the 11th year….This is a special Veterans Day just because of the date.   Today there is a contest.  Each year since 1978 the Department of Veterans Affairs  has created a special poster for the year.  Please chose your favorite poster  from the list, by year.  We will have an honorary poster winner  at the end of the day.  I already know my favorite. 

For our contributor vets, thank you for your service. 



Please don’t forget to chose a favorite Veterans Day Poster. 

There are many Veterans Day posts today because Veterans are special.

The Horse Soldiers of 9/11

The Daily Caller:

It was the news the world breathlessly waited for immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks: a report of the first American troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

All at once the world’s attention focused on an iconic photo of those Special Operations Forces doing something no American military had done in nearly a century: They rode horses into combat.

Their secret mission: secure northern Afghanistan by advising the warring tribal factions that formed the Northern Alliance. During the 2011 Veterans Day Parade on November 11, a new monument to these men — and to all Americans in uniform — will make its way down New York City’s famed Fifth Avenue on the way to its final home, a stone’s throw from Ground Zero.

Military men and women, along with New York City firefighters, policemen, emergency responders and other marchers, 50,000 in all, will escort the monument on its televised journey. The spectacle will feature members of the three original Special Operations teams — some on horseback, others walking alongside surviving spouses of fallen heroes.

Retired Army general and current CIA director David Petraeus will be among the parade marshals. Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a future movie about America’s “Horse Soldiers.”

Read more:

Sgt. Reckless-Korean War Horse Hero

Not all our vets have been human.  Reckless makes Traveler, Little Sorrel, Comanche and countless other horses look like ‘also rans.’ 

Reckless was definitely like the little engine who could. 

She was retired at the Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton where a General issued the following order…she was never to carry any more weight on her back except her own blankets. She died in 1968 at the age of 20.

h/t, Reckless

Veterans Day Reflections

Lyrics | Dire Straits lyricsBrothers In Arms lyrics

At what point do we get tired of burying our dead and having to prop up our mangled and wounded?

When do we stop all the chest thumping  and mission accomplished bravado while hiding our tears?

How many thousands have come home with life altering injuries, never to be whole again?

Half of those men and women would have died even 40 years ago.  Modern medicine has kept them alive and has  chased off the grim reaper. 

If we can land a man on the moon, we can find other ways to resolve conflict rather than blowing each other to kingdom come as we have done since the beginning of time. 

To all our veterans, we are glad you are here.  Thank you for your service–

I am a  proud daughter and niece of veterans.  My father and uncle  came home in one piece.  Not everyone did. I was one of the lucky ones. 


Alternate version of  Brothers in Arms  featuring Mark Knopfler, one of my favorite artists.  Knopfler, from Dire Straits, is one of the gods of guitar, like Clapton.