Thursday, November 11, 2010
The Most Depressing Veterans Day I've Ever Spent
We seem to be locked in an ever-expanding series of actions on an ever-expanding series of fronts, with no exit strategy. And these are the worst possible types of venues.
We're fighting a holding action.
The only conclusion I could come to all day was that the performance overall of the line troops has been unbelievably good. The line combat officers - mostly superior. The brass - not always so good.
The political brass? Fort Hood. 'Nuff said.
About the only thing we can do to repay these people for their sacrifices (and even if never hurt or injured, the endless grinding deployments are sacrifice enough) is to try to tighten things up on the home front and deal with our own problems. No matter how bad we think we have it, we don't have it as bad as they do.
So thank you, veterans. The words are not enough. Nothing can ever really be enough.
At the political end, not so much. One piece of family lore is grandfather's story of firing artillery support on Armistice morning as the doughboys went over the top. 1500 casualties on his sector on Armistice morning because the political class wanted to have the armistice at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. He didn't think much of the politicos who delayed the armistice or the brass who ordered attacks that morning.
Grandfather's last act of WW1 was catching a live 3" shell. When the ceasefire order came, the gunner flipped the breachblock open and grandfather caught the shell - you couldn't leave the shell in the gun because the gun was so hot from rapid fire that the shell would cook off.
Let's hope the day comes soon when "Jimmy will sleep in his own little room again".
But basic human decency should require us to recognize that for many of these soldiers and their families, there is nothing metaphorical about it at all. It's literal.
There is a difference.
That explains a lot about the last dozen years of "brass"
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