I know I've mentioned him as a Vietnam Veteran before. He spent six years in the service, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. He was stationed in Germany at first, where he supervised a weapons-making facility, and then went off to Vietnam, even serving with alongside the Korean Army to help them - he learned German and Korean while overseas, pretty remarkable. He was planning a reunion with some old Army buddies, which he never made it to. Out of many hundred family and friends he had, an old Army buddy was the first to send glowing remarks in eulogy.
His service life was very important to him. He always donated to the VFW, American Legion, and many, many veterans-assistance funds. (Though he did admit one key reason to join the American Legion in Ithaca was their 25c drafts.) He kept a piece of shrapnel on his dresser to remind himself how lucky he was. He never saw the Vietnam Memorial in DC, he was never able to do it emotionally. Despite the service being so important to him, he forbade us to join the service. My sister was thinking of joining and my parents used the "one time" rule (they had a theory that, once you went to college, they only got one time to definitively say "No" to something we wanted to do - mine was spent when they didn't want me to become a bartender).
He agreed with the spirit of Kerry's intentions, if not the flip-flopping, media-grabbing tone they often had. He had a few pet peeves, like how some pro-war parents would forbid their children from joining the service. He wasn't anti-war for any simplistic reasons, either, he had a complex group of reasons for why he was against the war. Even if you disagree with his opinion, which he would have invited you to do, he had a right to hold it.
And now, for the quick thought on our troops: after the church service, the casket was taken outside and draped with the flag. Two members of the army, obviously in full uniform, saluted each other while "Taps" played. They then had a ceremony with the flag, where they took it off and folded it into a triangle. After folding, they very precisely tucked in every side so that the triangle was perfect. I bet they do these services all the time, hell they could have even done one or more others that same day. It was obviously routine given the precision at which they carried out the service. And they couldn't have known my dad, given that they looked around their mid-twenties. They'd have to do some pretty extensive research on my dad in just a few days in order to know anything about him (which they might have, maybe they pull up a file on the ex-soldier).
Anyways, even though it was a routine service for someone they never met in their life, when one of the soldiers handed the folded flag to my mom, he was crying. There should be a certain amount of respect between your average citizen and our troops. Even if you disagree with the war, respect our troops. Respectfully disagree. Just as, even if you disagree with the current government, respect your president, respectfully disagree. It was the respect that the one officer had for my dad, even though he never met him, that made him cry - it is that same respect we should have for our troops, our government, and each other.
Edit: OK, it wasn't so quick.
Edited by sheeps, 21 September 2005 - 10:14 AM.