11 November 2009

11


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the fourth year of the Great War, the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Thus was the first Armistice Day, which was observed in Allied nations for years.

In the US, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and remembered all service men and women who served in all American wars. I believe that the UK has also officially changed the name of the holiday to Remembrance Day as well.

ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) media has a set of pictures from a British Remembrance Day ceremony at Regional Command-South's HQ at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

SWJ has also linked to an excellent article from the Washington Post written by David Ignatius, entitled "Standing Tall in Harm's Way". An excerpt:


This picture of a traumatized military is misleading. Certainly, the Army and the other services are stressed by the demands of combat. But what's striking to me this Veterans Day is how healthy the military is, given all the weight it has been carrying for the country these past eight years.

Facing a new and disorienting kind of warfare, the military has learned and adapted. Rather than complain about their problems, soldiers have figured out ways to solve them.

In truth, the U.S. military may be the most resilient part of American society right now. The soldiers are clearly in better shape than the political class that sent them to war and the economic leadership that has mismanaged the economy. (I'd give the same high marks to young civilians who are serving and sacrificing in hard places -- the Peace Corps and medical volunteers I've met abroad and the teachers in tough inner-city schools.)

Through all its difficulties, the military has kept its stride. That sense of balance comes partly from the fact that soldiers are anchored to the American bedrock. This includes the stereotypical small towns in the South and Midwest that have military service in their DNA. But it also counts plenty of hardworking, upwardly mobile Hispanic and African American families in urban America that produce some of the best soldiers I know.

I had the pleasure of living in the military family when I traveled for 2 1/2 weeks recently with U.S. Central Command. What I heard, listening into the military's unscripted conversations, were the wisecracks and dark humor of soldiers trying to make the best of a hard situation. But there was also the satisfaction of fighting these tough and sometimes thankless wars: The troops don't boast about it, but they are very proud of what they have managed to accomplish.

That reminds me--today is the last day to donate to Soldiers' Angels Valour IT project, with proceeds being used to purchase voice-activated laptops for wounded troops.

2 comments:

Paul said...

Nice words. I’m pretty satisfied with the leadership we have in place currently. We finally have a set of real war fighters leading the troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which I don’t think was the case when we went to war back in 2001. It’s a credit to all the services that they’ve taken the “lessons learned” with blood seriously. That’s the major difference between our current military leaders and our political and economic big wheels.

There is one other group of Americans I wish David Ignatius had mentioned in his tribute: Native Americans. In my own unit in Vietnam, two of the best soldiers we had — in a group that was known for its high standards — were Native Americans. I’ve talked to a lot of former soldiers and marines over the years who’ve agreed with me.

It’s always surprised me: so many of the best troops seem to come from poor rural and urban backgrounds. In the field, they see things that the other guys miss and they’re quicker to evaluate what they see and come to the right conclusion. If I were enlisting today, I’d hope that I’d end up is a squad led by a sergeant who came from some little place in Georgia or South Carolina that was so far back in the woods they had to pump the sunlight in, or a squad leader who grew up in South Central LA or some similar place. We as a nation owe a tremendous amount to these guys and, unfortunately, when they get out and the goodies are being handed out too often they’re at the end of the line.

Anyway, have a good Veterans Day.

Sarah Sofia Ganborg said...

Hi Starbuck!
I have linked to two of your posts:

http://livinginscandinavia.blogspot.com/2009/11/wall.html

and

http://anders-wohnen.blogspot.com/2009/11/remembrance-day-veterans-day.html

you should check them out.
Also I feel that there is so much that people don't know about the cold war, so much untold and people just seem to forget just how suppressive and sick it really was. perhaps it's because nobody really could could take getting acquainted with the harsh reality without cracking up completely...

I like Paul's comment above and what he writes about "best troops coming from poor rural and urban backgrounds..."
Personally I don't think "getting a taste of what the real world is like" before you decide to commit to a cause - just to formulate it complete vague... - hasn't hurt anyone yet!

Oh and as for shooters on the loose - be it school kids or inside the service - I really would like to know if this fooker was on psych drugs! No I'm not saying that the army should be blamed or held responsible... but one can actually predict human behavior very well. However the shrinks don't have the technology, neither do the spooks.
And the fact that this clown was a shrink is definitely one reason why he shouldn't be in the army!
Psychiatrists have no place in the army or in aid organizations, since they do not produce anything worth while and their profession no science at all. They're simply quacks who are good at torturing and demanding high fees for it!