November 11

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I grew up in times that were complicated for the American military. We were trying to forget Vietnam, and you only went into the service if you didn’t know what to do with yourself or if you were a screw-up.

After I had already started college, things began to change. The GI bill made the military appealing to those willing to sacrifice a few years in order to get money to go to school – this was a major reason why my brother went into the military. Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to not have to worry about him seeing battle duty. In the 80s, we weren’t at war, so it really was a different world.

Of course, since Operation Desert Storm in 1990, America – and its military – has not been the same. Coincidentally (?), the great guilt over treatment of Vietnam vets overflowed. Americans vowed never to treat our men and women in uniform the way we did in the early to mid-70s.

Being raised in the Midwest, I also had a cultural upbringing regarding the American civil war. It was just a standard history lesson, with no real impact on my life. I pretty much just knew names and dates, and the fact that the Midwest was part of the underground railroad.

Now that I live in the American South, the civil war becomes a little more real. Nearly everywhere I look, there’s a memorial of some sort to the confederate army.

This picture was taken in April, 2016, in Raleigh. Walking through the tombstones, it’s easy to realize how families and lives were ruined as a result of war. Battles are honored, as are the fallen – and the survivors, too.

I think it’s good to remember the major issues that create the world we live in today. The good, and the not-so-good. Most importantly, we need to learn from our mistakes and ensure we take steps to improve.

Godspeed to everyone who served in the military – regardless of when, why, or how.

Godspeed also to those who didn’t – regardless of when and why not.