Today we celebrate the holiday known as Veterans Day.
A veteran is a person who has served in the armed forces (e.g. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and others).
Veterans Day is a somewhat complicated holiday because some people do not support war or how the U.S. government uses military forces throughout the world. Whether or not a soldier has actually fought in a war, his/her main job has been “to protect and serve the interests of the United States”.
For many people, this is a day to remember those who have served. Many people are very proud of “our troops” and support them and their mission. They are grateful to them because they believe that they have helped to safeguard our rights as Americans and have protected our freedom.
On the other hand, there are many U.S. citizens who do not like war and are critical of the role that the U.S. armed forces have played on the global stage in the past 100 years. They do not like that young men and women have been killed and/or injured for reasons that are not always commendable or even necessary.
Some people believe that the U.S. government uses young people for their own goals of power and control, regardless of the effects on these young soldiers (e.g. PTSD, brain damage, death). Often times those who join the armed forces come from poor and less educated communities. Many young men and women join in order to pay for a college education. The U.S. elite do not send their children to fight.
However, whether or not a person agrees with the military actions of the U.S. government, most citizens (civilians) do support the actual people (soldiers) themselves, the men and women who have “served their country”. They want them to be treated well and taken care of, especially if they have mental or physical troubles upon returning home from active service abroad.
Geopolitical relationships and the balance of power in the world is a very complicated issue and the story of war has many sides.
Each American celebrates this holiday in their own way. Some attend schools assemblies, events or parades where veterans in the local communities are honored and given recognition for their service, while others grapple with the frustrations of the current realities for veterans, such as having a hard time finding jobs once they leave the military, dealing with severe injuries they received during their service, homelessness, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other hardships.
I like to take time to contemplate the many aspects of war, of the need for a military force, the history of the armed forces and, of course, the people who have chosen this path. I like to recognize the individuals and how they have been affected, and how they need to be cared for now.
In the U.S., there are millions of veterans, some of whom are doing well and others who aren’t. Each veteran has his/her own story to tell and I find these stories quite interesting, touching and educational.
Here are some videos that represent the complicated story of a vet’s life.
Here is a short video about a young soldier who worked in Iraq and his friendship with two young Iraqi boys.
TED Talk from a guy who joined the Army to help him pay for college.
TED Talk on why Veterans miss war.
A report on how the families of wounded vets are being affected.