11.11.2017,7:38 PM
Veterans. Every day.
The restaurant  where my daughter works at in Eugene, OR, had free meals to all veterans today. She visited at the 'community' table full of vets of all ages, where they all shared stories. Some were in tears. She was in tears with them. Her Dad is a Vietnam vet, wounded in action. She understood their pain and camaraderie.

Some of you have been in war. Some of you may have lost a family member, classmates, friends. Many vets return home but are never the same, still lost.

A few veterans have told me that there is honor but no glory in war. There is only pain, of the body or the spirit. Many times both. No one wins, everyone loses.

This was also related to me by a veteran from Afghanistan, who was wounded and lost his spleen, a kidney, and part of his liver. He rode the TRE train that I rode, sometimes in the morning, sometimes late afternoon. He could not work due to his injuries which will never fully heal. He was half-Apache and lived with his sister near Fort Worth. He had severe depression since returning and had to travel to the veterans' clinic in Dallas every week for treatments.

He has been riding the train to the Veteran's Clinic almost every weekday for several years to volunteer working with other returning veterans to give them moral support. He told me that I was the first one that sat next to him on the train with a smile and a "Good morning". In all those years.

He never told me his story until weeks after we had first met and we sat together when seats allowed. He explained that he and so many other returning vets exist in a different world than everyone else. No one can know what they experienced unless they were also there. Some never talk about it and try to find solace in drugs or alcohol. He chose not to go that route because he is Apache, and that is not what his people do. But many others do, and that is why he volunteers: to help them find some peace within themselves.

I know many veterans that talk about their time in the military. My ex-husband did not; its locked away in a dark place and he won't let that demon out. Maybe that is why he is a recurring alcoholic. It destroyed our marriage.

Other than the two World Wars, our country has mired itself in wars on alien soil that don't have to be our wars. Where is the glory in wars that our governing administration has no taste of the reality of war? Are our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers expendable pawns sent off to political wars and often ignored after they return? How long must this go on?

About two months before I retired, my friend disappeared from the train. I asked one of the conductors if he had seen him. He remembered him because of his limp, solemn face and long black hair. He had not seen him for several weeks, in the am nor the pm. I missed him. He was hope for strength, perseverance, and compassion.

During our last conversation, he admitted that his depression had gotten worse and no medication was helping. He asked me if I would accompany him to a movie sometime as a friend. Movies helped him escape his pain. I replied that I would be honored to. I gave him my phone number, but I never heard from him. And I worry for why I never saw him on the train again.

This is how I grieve on Veterans Day. And how I honor veterans, the  living and the dead.

For all that have served, fallen, and those that live on, may the dove be your guide.

"The dove she is a pretty bird,
She sings as she flies.
She brings us glad tidings,
And tells us no lies.

Come all you young men,
take a warning by me.
Don't go for a soldier,
don't join no army.
For the dove she will leave you
and the raven will come
And death will come marching
to the beat of a drum.

Come all you pretty young girls,
come walk in the sun.
And don't let your young men
ever carry a gun
For the gun it will scare her
and she'll fly away
And then there'll be weeping
by night and by day.

Well the dove she's a pretty bird,
she sings as she flies.
She brings us glad tidings
and she tells us no lies
She flies in the mountains
and the valley so low.
And if you live peaceful
then she never will go."

- lyrics by Ewan McCall.
posted by Macrobe
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