Wednesday, November 10, 2010
You know you are too old when they call you a Vet...
I was a working professional military man for many years and never ever called myself a Vet, yes, I was a combat vet and wore my patch on my shoulder proudly - didn't need to say anything else after we had quietly departed the Republic of Vietnam in 1973. I left in 1971, on a normal rotation, I expected to go back if we stayed. Not quite as bad a rotation as the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - the Army was much larger then, the Marines also.
Veterans to me were always those old guys marching in local parades a couple times a year, honored by the community for their service. In fact veterans have been the backbone of any great military organization - as Lord Percy once wrote "Whoever looks upon them as an irregular mob, will find himself very much mistaken. They have men amongst them that know very well what they are about, having been employed as rangers against the Indians and Canadians, and this country being covered with wood, and hilly, is very advantageous for their method of fighting." The Greeks and the Romans put their veterans in special units to back up the younger unblooded warriors. Napoleon didn't love his Old Guard for just their mustaches - but that he could always count on them not to break. Zulu warriors had not much status until they got to wash their spears (in the blood of their enemies).
Oh, well, these last few years have worn off that foolish facade of eternal youth that one wears with his uniform. I got old in the military, becoming almost a father figure although never "The Old Man" (always reserved for the commander). Now many years later after retiring I am so very happy to be still alive, that the title Vet will fit me and my feeble body just fine. Remember, Arby's and other folks have special deals tomorrow for veterans. Shucks, even the Revolutionary War Veterans Association has something for Vets:
Vets shoot Free!. Yes, I signed right up, all I have to bring is my rifle, ammunition and a great American attitude!