We've already got 5 threads on this site that relate to Veterans Day, but I read an article this morning that offers a fresh look at the day.
Unlike Donald Trump, both my dad and I served in the military.
Dad joined the Army at the age of 33 in early 1942, motivated by the attack on Pearl Harbor.
I joined the National Guard in 1970 to avoid getting drafted and sent to Vietnam.
Neither one of us saw any combat - but we still served our country.
Schmidt mentioned a few years ago that Trump had strong support for the military, but that is no longer true.
The Washington Post printed a story today about a decorated WWII veteran who wrote a letter to his infant son in 1945, not knowing if he would ever see him. The letter was never mailed, but was discovered by his daughter 74 years later.
Although it is worthwhile to read the entire story, the main parts are posted below:
“We are on opposite sides of the world, “ he wrote, “but . . . I feel very close to you. . . . I gave you something of my life when you came into being, but, at the same time, you gave me something intangible that has a value in life which cannot be measured, the pride and joy of re-creation, the completion of one’s cycle of life, for this I am indebted to you.”
He continued, “I am glad for your sake that you were born an American, and, as you grow older, you will realize how many advantages and limitless opportunities lie before you. . . . Our country is not spotless or above reproach, but the precepts upon which it was founded still rule, and the fundamental conception of freedom, justice, equality, rights and religion make it a land of opportunity.
“I have seen enough of the world to know what all that means now. Before this experience, I was taking it for granted and did not realize what it would mean not to have it.”
He urged me to embrace “desirable character traits that are as fundamental as life itself, obedience, truthfulness, kindness, sincerity, tolerance, fruitfulness, and respect for other people’s rights.” And to “acquire a true sense of values so that you can recognize the things in life that are really important. . . . Learn to love beauty, wherever you find it, music, scenery, books, anything. Develop an inquisitive mind and always remember education is a never ending process. Culture is not a feminine word or a sissy trait. . . . Respect money for what it can do for you, but realize its limitations. Beyond a certain point it adds nothing to life. Never confuse ambition with greed.”
Dad survived the war and lived a long and wonderful life, dying just eight days short of his 100th birthday. He taught our family the values in his letter not by lecturing but by living a lifetime of faithful devotion to them.
On June 8, 1966, the Army re-commissioned him for a day so he could administer the oath of office to me when I graduated from West Point.
On Veterans Day, we honor them and, at the same time, reaffirm our duty to live up to the values for which they fought. Never before has that duty been so important. From 1776 until today, countless letters from countless veterans have spoken of allegiance to those values. In our individual lives and collectively as citizens those are the values upon which our democracy rests.
The nation has just refused to reelect a president who governed with contempt for core democratic values and who now refuses to accept the will of the voters. President Trump caused grave damage to the fabric of our democracy and our stature in the world. If we do not act promptly to repair that damage, it will forever alter who we are.