Friday, November 12, 2010

Reflecting on Veteran's Day

Posted by: Noel Jones

I thought this was a nice project by The Morning Call for Veteran's Day, collecting the stories of veterans in our area and highlighting their experiences in different wars:

Here also, is a story from the Express-Times on local Veteran's response to Lou Reda's new film project for the History Channel, Vietnam in HD:

Vietnam Vets Respond to Reda

I called my brother yesterday, who is a Sergeant in the Army, training troops in Ft. Polk, Louisiana to build trenches that are camouflaged for the desert. In Ft. Polk they have built an entire Afghani village, complete with Afghani actors, as well as an outlying "desert" so that 

troops can get accustomed to talking with the people, telling the difference between the various tribes and subcultures that are intermingled there, learning phrases, practicing mediation skills--as well as building camouflaged trenches, learning how to walk single file in one another's footsteps to avoid I.E.D.s, and going through simulated skirmishes.

I joked with him that we built forts and played war every day when we were kids in Alaska, and now 30 years later, he's getting paid to do the same thing. He laughed and agreed, but all of this was to offset the somber memories that come to mind on Veteran's Day, after my brother's two tours in Iraq. He seems to appreciate keeping it light.

Regardless how I may feel about our involvement in the Middle-East, my brother is my brother, and I know that he is operating from a deep spiritual conviction that our nation has been in danger since 9/11, that he had to do what he could to defend his country. He enlisted and spent 15 months at the Presidio in an immersion course to learn Arabic. Then he was transferred to a mountain division in Ft. Drum, NY. Now he is teaching young troops to build trenches in the desert. It makes me nervous for him, and for all our troops. 

My only consolation in these shifts has been that finally, after living hundreds of miles apart for most of our adulthoods, Ft. Drum is within driving distance, and I can see my niece and nephews occasionally--my brother's six children. I also get to see my brother from time to time, when he's not away at training. 

Over the last 20 years, my little brother and I have managed to overcome differences in faith, politics, philosophies and lifestyles to find a common ground in which we can commune and just appreciate the simple fact that we are family and love and miss each other, despite our differences. We've even come to a place where we can debate diplomatically about politics and the economy, which I once thought would be impossible, but now we really enjoy ourselves and respect each other's difference in perspective. 

I can't help thinking that if my brother and I can accomplish this in our political discussions, that anyone can, if they really want to. I guess that's part of why I created this blog--to provide a forum in which people feel a sense of community in which it is safe to disagree, learn from each other and enjoy a debate that is both earnest and civil, rather than the polarizing obfuscation matches that we see on TV.

How about you? Do you have any relatives in the military? Do you tend to share their perspectives or feel that differences in perspective make closeness a challenge? What do you do to honor Veteran's Day?

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