Friday, November 10, 2006

Veteran's Day

I was talking to a friend of Kirk's once, one of the veterans of the first Gulf War. I asked what he had planned for Veteran's Day that year. I knew he and his family went to the nearest national cemetery on Memorial Day, and wondered if they did the same on Veteran's.

Memorial Day, he said, that's for the soldiers who never came back. So he takes his family every year to a place where they lie, and they walk the long rows and read the names incised on the marble markers.

But Veteran's Day, he said, that's ours. It belongs to the living vets, the ones who have served and returned. On that day he and his family spend time with other vets. They don't necessarily talk war - they just spend the day with other people who know something of what they know. They have a barbecue, the kids play ball and set up elaborate stepping-stone games with the hay bales, and a local band plays nothing newer than twenty years old.

It's a good distinction to keep in mind. For most of us, both days are marked more by picnics or sales events. I suppose that's okay. Because these aren't our days, they belong to someone else.

It's just... we might want to keep that in mind.

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