I’m a US Army veteran. I served in West Germany. My dad was in the WWII US Navy in the Pacific. His uncle was in the Polish Army in 1920, at war against the Russian Bolsheviks. My son was in the US Navy stateside. We’ve been around.
But for any one of us on active duty, there were amongst us girlfriends, wives, kids, parents, and other important people waiting for us back home. On Veterans Day, they should get a thought too. Because some of them fought their own battles on the homefront. This is not to take anything away from my fellow vets. Just to say we should also honor the people who backed us up.
A close pal had a dad who was a Strategic Air Command bomber pilot. My pal hardly ever saw him for years. That was hard on everybody, especially the little kids in his family. There were seven of them. My own godfather was the Command Sergeant Major of a psyops unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Multiple deployments to Vietnam. His wife and son only got to really know him when he retired. My dad contracted rheumatic fever in the Pacific during WWII. He died at 46 from the damage done to his heart during the war. I was 9, my kid sister was 8. It wasn’t easy. But my mom kept us going and kept his memory alive as a beacon. As a single mom, she showed the kind of grit and courage that would have made my dad, a decorated combat vet, proud.
I bet you know, or are yourself, the spouse or kid of a veteran. You know what the separations and deployments are like. You know what an unexpected visit from the chaplain could mean. You know your loved one signed a check on their life, payable to their country on demand. It can be a harrowing proposition.
You probably have not have heard of Morris Janowitz. If you’re in the military family, you may want to acquaint yourself with him. In the postwar era he was an American sociologist who studied the military as a society unto itself. Because of their traditional social mores, the necessary patriarchal structure of a warrior society, and their suspicion and disdain for outsiders, he and other sociologists termed our military “the heavily armed Amish.” It’s a pretty accurate description.
And like the Amish, to us veterans, family is everything. Our military family and others we love play a special part in our service to our country and in our subsequent lives. Hell, some of my Army buddies, connected again courtesy of Facebook, are still close friends. I’d give a lot for those guys today, as decades ago I trusted them with my life.
So remember the kids of the B-17 waist gunners, the wives of the submariners, and the spouses of Marines on Veterans Day. In their own way, they served too.