Remembering our veterans, always

Veteran's Day, as it's now known-although I prefer England's designation "Remembrance Day"-has come and gone, and with scant attention paid from this writer's point of view. That, and an encounter in Magnolia Village on Nov. 11, has made me stop to think a bit more about this day set aside to remember our military men and women.

I was approached by a man-a local man I recognized but don't really know-while waiting for my morning mocha at the McGraw Street Café. He had two pages of decals with the United States Flag, along with other red, white and blue designs that he wanted to place in the windows of some of the stores in the Village.

He was incensed or, as he put it, "pissed off" at the lack of flags and other commemorative decorations in the Village. He then changed his description to that of being saddened by the lack of support for our veterans, stating that he himself had served in the military. The staff at the Café said he would have to get approval from the owner to place his decals.

I walked away thinking about what Veteran's Day means, or perhaps should mean. I suppose it varies from region to region in our country. In small town U.S.A., there may be a major display of flags and parades, as well as pancake breakfasts. In larger cities, the festivities are much more subdued or nonexistent.

I wondered if our collective guilt over what our government has done in Iraq plays a role in our reluctance to be outwardly enthusiastic. Our president has made a point of hiding from public view the 3,000-plus caskets returning from Iraq, forbidding the media from photographing them.

Has this lack of compassion and leadership, motivated by the need to bolster political support for an increasingly failing policy, dampened our ardor to remember our veterans? Perhaps, but it shouldn't.

Maybe the fact that a majority of our men and women serving and dying in this conflict come from the ranks of the less affluent in our society, and from the small towns where patriotism still burns with an evangelical ferocity, accounts for the regional differences in the remembrance demonstration for our fallen warriors.

We can disagree on the Iraq invasion, and whether we should stay there, but we should not find room to disagree when it comes to honoring our men and women who have served our country. They serve at the will of our president and Congress.

There is nothing to be done now-the day for remembrance has past-but I'm reminded of a day long ago. I was visiting my mother-in-law at a nursing home, and it happened to be Mother's Day. An Irish woman, Mary, was waiting for her children to come take her out for the day.

As I walked to the front doors, I said hi to Mary and wished her a happy Mother's Day. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "I don't give a damn about Mother's Day! I was a mother 365 days a year. Why is it I'm only recognized on this one day?"

Caught uncharacteristically without words, I could only smile and continue into the building.

And so, with Veteran's Day come and gone with little fanfare, perhaps we can follow Mary's advice and remember our men and women every day-those who have lost their lives, those who were lucky enough to return and especially those who return to us broken physically and mentally.[[In-content Ad]]