Thursday, November 11, 2021

11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

I've always wished we stayed aligned with our Commonwealth allies and stuck with 11 November as Remembrance Day. Yes, we have Memorial Day, but I always thought the vibe - which if you have served with our Anglosphere friends you can feel - of Remembrance Day was more powerful and useful.

I didn't really know what to put up today until I ran across a picture of one of our greatest Americans, President Eisenhower, in a speech he gave to veterans the year he was elected to the Presidency.

After the events around the national humiliation at the end of August that closed the door for us on the Afghanistan conflict - regulars here know we've invested time here and over on Midrats to work through thoughts about what we did individually and collectively. Still stuck in that mode, this Veterans Day I find myself thinking of those I served with in Afghanistan and those who served there before and after.

I think of the risk they took just doing what was required in our profession. I think of their families who let them go and come back. I think of those who did not come back, or came back in some way physically and mentally - different or in part.

For those who came back, perhaps we should take a moment to think of each other. What we saw, hoped, thought, and wished for while we were there. What we sold ourselves, or let others sell to us, to justify our deployments. Think of those we served with from allied nations who, like us, willingly did what their profession required. Even more, those Afghans we served with, tried to help, saw day to day, waved at, and trusted us.

The conflict in Afghanistan was not, historically, a "great" war in size or deaths. It was a long war though. According to the Washington Post, 800,000 Americans alone served through the years 2001-2021 in Afghanistan.

Everyone's experience was different. Everyone tries understand what they did in their own way. Everyone remembers differently - even those who say they don't.

Everyone does reflect - and so - this November 11th I'm going to reflect a bit - and think of those who are reflecting as well.

Most will enjoy a discount, take a day off, or more likely than not, just carry on like any other day. That is good, that is fine - that is healthy. Others will - perhaps most - take a least a moment to ponder. Maybe a second, maybe longer - that is healthy too.

That is what I see in this picture of Eisenhower. A strong, stoic man who - even him - can be buffeted by a wave of remembrance of what he and others did and survived in recent memory.

If it is OK for Ike, it is OK for everyone.

h/t Michael Beschloss

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