Veteran’s Day – 2017

This has always been a bit of a mixed emotion day for me.  I am a veteran by definition but I was a National Guardsman before the Guard became a regularly relied upon adjunct to the Army.  I and my family did go through an activation and I spent nearly a year at Ft. Lewis, Washington during the Berlin Crisis.  Being warned of an imminent trip to Guantanamo was as close as our unit came to overseas deployment.  We served as one of the tiny pieces on the giant chess board of world affairs.

Today’s reserve forces are fully equipped, fully trained and taxed regularly; and, many members serve on active duty whether or not the unit to which they are assigned has been activated.  That is the difference in our world today vs. where we were in the early 1960s.  Our reserve forces today are very accustomed to serving on active duty either as individuals called upon for various skill sets or as units or adjuncts to units.  And they are often called upon to assist in natural disasters.

Our world has changed, and not always for the better.  The United States of America continues to be among the major forces for good in this world, and much of that rides on the backs of the members of the various reserve military units of all branches who remain largely faceless and nameless unless and until they give their all for you and me.

That seems to be either ignored or forgotten completely when those such as the too-juvenile NFL players feel the need to protest, or when Antifa threatens to topple another statue.  My concept of freedom seems to differ markedly from some of those actors’ apparent concepts of freedom.  They see freedom as their right to act up while I see it as something for which to be eternally grateful.  Odds are that they and I will not find common ground.

Some of us are/were willing to pay the ultimate price for our freedoms while others seem to feel they should be cut some slack and permitted to denigrate what those who went before left in place for them today.  To date, I have not been able to square their belief system with my own; unfortunately, I doubt seriously that they have even engaged in an attempt to reconcile with my belief system.  Why should they when they are in it for the simple ‘get your jollies’ at others’ expense motive to show them?  Show them what seems not yet to have been identified so, in the meantime, let’s just tip over another statue

I worry about the country my generation leaves behind for the next generations.  I worry that we somehow left this group of malcontents behind, and I wonder if that is our fault or their fault or some strange combination of fault.  Maybe we have come to the point where things are just too easy and therefore people take that for granted while they find the little threads to pull in their attempts to unravel what we gave to them to guard and protect.

Or maybe I have been sleepwalking through my adulthood and missed all the points of grievance they seem to find in abundance.  There is an obvious disconnect, and that is concerning/frightening to me since ‘living’ in this country has never been better; freedoms are more fully evident today than they were when I was born in the early years of WWII.  Yet, we are at each others’ throats, figuratively for now for the most part, and there seems no way for the two disparate sides to come together, and find solutions other than through the potential use of force.

A part of my service involved, as I’ve said before, being on the streets in uniform during the riots in Milwaukee many years ago.  Some seem to be anxious for a redo of that terrible time, and if they persist that may well occur.  Are we so short-sighted and memory-deprived as to need these confrontations of violence before we realize there are better ways to solve our mutual issues?

Our inner-city is brimming with those seemingly intent on provoking another lockdown with military units on the streets, apparently thinking that will solve all the problems of the world.  City leaders build streetcar lines to nowhere when that money could be going to a better purpose to provide that hand up for people suffering from poor educations, lack of opportunity, etc., etc.  We seem to have learned nothing from those earlier riots and I don’t think this is confined just to Milwaukee.

Our city leaders appear bereft of solutions.  I have to believe they are able to see that we have problems needing solutions.  If I’m giving them too much credit, then our dilemma is much greater than I thought.  Let’s continue to place blame anywhere but on our own shoulders.  It is GUNS!  That has to be the real problem, some cry in the wilderness.  It is the people who misuse the guns that is the problem.  I don’t see law-abiding citizens walking down the streets shooting out streetlights and gunning down neighbors and stealing cars for a joyride they know will end in a car crash with innocents being placed in harm’s way.

We are sorely in need of people of faith, and people of good faith, people of all races, people of all economic backgrounds finding that common ground we talk about so often.  Our national politicians are too often bent on maintaining these imbalances since that gets them re-elected based on promises made but seldom if ever, kept.  We wonder at the unrest.  We wonder at the Antifa movement and its obsession with toppling statues and destroying property and disregarding human lives.

We are a diseased society in spite of all the feel-good talk.  We are all, at the very basic level, equal.  We are humans.  Yes, we are different skin colors but we are all humans beneath that skin.  We talk about feelings being “only skin deep”, but skin deep seems to be awfully thick these days.

I sometimes wonder, and today is one of those times if the elected representatives, city, state and national, of those in our inner cities, don’t somehow benefit from such racial stress?  If so, it would seem to make sense why we still have ‘inner cities’.  It just doesn’t seem that anyone would desire to live in an “inner city”, no matter where it is found if they had choices.

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