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Ruminations

A friend and I recently used the driving time to a conference in Falmouth to reminisce about his military experience in Vietnam.

We came to the sobering conclusions that – since I was in the final lottery of people being drafted, in 1973 – most Vietnam vets are now in their mid 60s and older. And, that America has relied on volunteers to fight its wars for 43 years now.

Today is Veterans Day, and I offer a sincere "Thank You" to all veterans reading this. But, I especially feel the need to thank those men and women who have served in the past 43 years because no one compelled them to serve other than themselves.

I know lots of people whose sons or daughters or siblings have served or they, themselves, have served within the past two decades. Thankfully, we applied a lesson learned from the Vietnam war to them. That lesson is: You can be against a given war, but you support the people who are fighting in it.

Unlike Vietnam, when newly returning soldiers and sailors and Marines and airmen were spat upon or called "baby killers" by an ignorant, stateside unhappy population, today we let our service people know who much we value them.

And, for those who like to rewrite 40 or 50-year old history, don't try that on me. I saw it happen to people at that time returning to my neighborhood, and I know people to whom it happened. Today, we know better.

So, if you know someone who served or are currently serving, take the time today to let them know we care by simply thanking them.

As the brother of someone currently serving in Afghanistan told me last week, "People here don't know who screwed up a lot of the rest of the world is and how good we have it here." So, I'll be quietly thanking my grandfather – a deceased World War I veteran – my father – a deceased World War II veteran – and my uncle – a deceased Korean veteran – for giving me the freedoms I enjoy today.

One of those freedoms is to be able to voice my opinion without fear of getting jailed or killed for voicing it. One of my latest opinions is to wish people would stop and think before they decide to get up in public and voice theirs.

I'm not saying people don't have a right to voice their opinions. I'm just saying that maybe they should think about what it is they want to say before actually saying it.

The older I get, the more I review in my head what I want to say and how I'm going to say it. And, I think about how others may "receive" it. Will a bit of humor make it sound better? Can I get my point across by asking a question as opposed to stating what I think is a fact?

It's a process that people should go through before speaking at public gatherings like a Town Meeting.




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