This month’s Reporter is dedicated to veterans. In my lifetime, veterans have been both revered and reviled. We’d like to dedicate this issue of the Reporter to honor our veterans.
Like many baby boomers, a significant number of my male relatives were WW2 vets.
Their generation, famously named the Greatest Generation, was destined to fight tyrannical enemies that were easy to identify but difficult to destroy. Through supreme effort and sacrifice they triumphed and came home heroes to a grateful nation.
As a boy, I genuinely cherished the stories I heard from them. Unlike others, who say their dads wouldn’t talk about the war, my dad and uncles did, though sometimes I had to prod them to relinquish memories from their experiences. They usually glossed over the drudgery of military life and never, ever did I hear about the slaughter they encountered. Those episodes were sprinkled with euphemisms to protect me I’m sure and maybe as a cathartic for their own psyche. I never got tired hearing them relive their memories, no matter how repetitive the reminiscing became.
My biggest regret was not recording my dad and uncles when they were younger. Now, my dad is 99. He has trouble recalling what he’d gone through as a young man
with the clarity he once had.
When the ‘60's came, my generation was called to arms. For his part, my dad did not believe we should be involved in a land war in Southeast Asia. He could see the folly of getting involved in civil wars. I was too naïve to realize he was right and bought into the “domino effect” theory, which was the catch phrase of the politicians of that era. To his dismay, I volunteered for the draft.
However, once I was in the service, he was as proud as he could be and I never suspected any disagreement over my decision. My family supported me by sending “care” packages wherever I was and even celebrated Christmas for me in July when I was home on leave.
Many veterans from the Vietnam era did not receive a hero’s welcome, though. Fortunately, that is not the case today. From Desert Storm to Iraqi Freedom to Seal Team 6, our veterans are receiving the welcome they deserve. On the following pages, you’ll read from a sampling of Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Air Force veterans who are ASHI members. One of the interviewees is Kim McGraw, my administrative assistant and veteran’s affairs coordinator (as well as a Jill of all trades) at ASHI HQ.
Take a few minutes to read their stories and you’ll see how pertinent their time spent in the armed forces was in shaping their careers in ASHI.
I’d like to ask two things of you though. First, thank any veteran you meet for their service. And secondly, I’d like to ask veterans to send in their name, rank and branch of service and we’ll post it on the ASHI website as a permanent acknowledgement from a grateful society!
I don’t think my Leatherneck buddies will object to me saying,