Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you.

(This is the Vietnam War memorial here in town.)

I want to avoid the platitudes for Veterans' Day. But I have to remember to say thank you.

I grew up in a military family. Both parents were in the Army. My brother was in the Air Force. So of course I wandered off and married a sailor who was the son of an Army/Air Force career man. (One tour Army; finished up AF.)

I remember driving down to SA from Norfolk in 2004 so we could get the kids baptized at St Mark's (which is just in front of this monument). I was 24 at the time, had just had my second daughter less than six months before.

Now, you have to understand here. I grew up in Military City. Lots of cities claim that, but San Antonio can make a good case. We've got Lackland AFB, where basic training is conducted, and Randolph AFB (if Linda had been a boy, she'd have been named Randolph), and Fort Sam Houston which is, well, Fort Sam Houston. And that's us after we lost two Air Force bases. Bexar County is typically the tops in the country for recruiting; the top 5 if not number 1. So I grew up around the military, and then when I was 19 I married a guy in the Navy and moved to Groton, which would be basically nothing were it not for the sub fleet. Then we went to Norfolk, which is basically a giant Navy base and surrounding strib clubs.

So I grew up near the military, and married a guy in the military, and went and hung around the military. Back in '01, the last time I saw my friend John Brysch, we spent most of the night talking about his experiences with the USMC in Okinawa & what I'd dealt with as a Navy wife, what I knew of Rob's experiences, even though we'd known each other since 9th grade.

Anyway. There we were in 2004, driving along I-40 through Tennessee. We stopped at a rest area just outside of Knoxville, went in to use the bathroom. As I was coming out, carrying Linda, a group of guys was going back in the other direction, all college guys, horsing around. They were pretty obviously around my age, but all I could think was "My God, how young they all are." That's something I've thought again and again around civilian men. How young they all are.

Funny thing is, a lot of the military guys I knew were younger. Hell, Rob was 24 when I met him, and a lot of the guys he was buddies with were younger than he. And of course your average sailor can cut up twice as good as any civilian you pull in off the street. (And Murphy's & Skippy's blogs provide ample evidence that it's an across-the-military phenomenon.)

And yet there is still a difference. These men and women know there is something bigger than they are, maybe more important, but definitely worth being a part of. And it makes a difference in a person.

So: thank you. Thanks to all the vets on my blog roll. You're a great bunch of guys.

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