I Am a Veteran, But I Didn’t Sacrifice

Above the CloudsI am a veteran, a Cold War veteran. There is even a medal for it — or not. I come from a line of veterans including a grandfather both gassed and shot in WWI and a father who served aboard submarines in WWII. I have their casket flags and medals an arm’s length away and I see in them daily the sacrifice they made that allowed me to become a veteran. Yet even though I served, I always feel a bit odd about being a veteran on Veteran’s Day.

My “war” wasn’t a war, unless by war you mean people practicing for an unlikely one. My four-year enlistment was one of the few times since WWII that America had no major combat operations in the world. There was scant danger of me, or anyone else, being shot. But, that is true even when major wars are happening. Many civilians don’t know that most military members never get close to combat, even in “combat” zones.

It has become di rigueur to thank veterans for their service. When they thank me, I’m always a little embarrassed to be in the same class as Dad and Grandad. They were shot and shot at. They sacrificed family and friends. Not me. I just did my job.

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Veteran’s Day: May the Stories of Those Who Served Live On

USS Holland

USS Holland (AS-3) Off San Diego With Submarines Alongside (circa 1935)

As I write this two American flags hang on my wall. Both are folded into militarily tight triangles and protected by flag boxes. One contains a Purple Heart, the other the WWII Service Medal and Pacific Service Medal. One day my own flag with a Cold War Service Medal will join them.

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