Veteran’s Day II

After I posted those pictured below I started thinking more about Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day commemorates the end of WWI. As far as I know I didn’t have any family members fight in WWI. A fair number fought in WWII, however.

I think especially of my Uncle Joe today. He was a bomber captain who flew over Europe. A few weeks ago, the family gathered to celebrate my grandfathers 90th birthday. I overheard Uncle Joe telling some of his stories. An old friend of the family was asking him about his war experience, something he didn’t seem to volunteer without being pressed. I listened as he told of his tail rudder, and much of his tail, being knocked off during a flight home to England. He was able to land the bomber, with no loss of life. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross. He talked about how every mission was dangerous because fighter planes didn’t have the range to accompany bombers for protection, until late in the war when the P-38 came into service. Every mission was extremely dangerous, and he flew over 30 of them.

A few days after that party, after hearing some of those stories for the first time and realizing how much he had done as a man in his early twenties, how much he had faced, I was informed he had suffered a major stroke. He died a few days after that.

I had not seen him in years, for various reasons. And a few days before he died we saw him, heard him tell his stories for maybe the last time. It was a gift to hear him talk about his time in the service. So on this Veteran’s Day I want to honor his service, his sacrifice, that reflects so, so many others. It’s a sacrifice that was, at its heart, not about domination or destruction but about justice, risking self for others.

There may be a lot of disagreement on the place of war in the pursuit of right and good, but I think that those who fight, those who risk, those who do in fact see their contribution as a contribution towards making a better world through taking the ultimate risk and sometimes offering the ultimate sacrifice, should be honored. And today is the day to offer words of thanks, for my Uncle Joe, and for all the others.

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