I initially started out writing a post about the joys of a day off, as I was able to get my oil changed, walk the dogs, and start some laundry in the first hour of the morning. Reading this post, though, made me realize that I was engaging in an act of selfishness, given that the reason I was able to catch up on some unfinished business was that today is the official celebration of Veterans Day.
Some 89 years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, nearly all of the participants in what had been known as The Great War laid down their weapons and began the process of ending one of the bloodiest carnages in human history.
I am an especially fortunate person, as I have never been close to anyone killed in warfare. My nephew has made it safely through three tours of duty in Iraq as an Army Ranger, and he likely will not have to spend any more time in places like Baghdad and Fallujah. My father and his brothers came of age in between the Korean and Vietnam Wars, so their terms of draft service were spent in stateside camps. My maternal grandfather, now 91, spent World War II rebuilding roads and bridges in the Pacific as part of the Seabees, and saw little in the way of combat conditions.
My brother and I grew up after Vietnam, when an all-volunteer military seemed more like a job that did not pay well. Besides, any branch of the military that would consider me as a potential recruit would probably pass after learning of my 20-600 uncorrected vision. I suspect that there are few military roles in which some semblance of visual acuity is not a helpful ability.
Thus, for me Veterans Day is something of an abstract concept, a term I can define but for which I have little personal attachment. Yet I can surely recognize that the privileged life I possess in the middle of the world's largest economy is guaranteed by the sacrifices of those who don the uniforms of the American military.
So I am requiring myself to spend a few minutes thinking about the millions of members of the military I will never meet, and especially to meditate on those who died in combat, trading their lives for higher ideals, and whose sacrifices benefit those who never lived through war.
I owe them at least this much, and so do you.