McCaskill has a nice YouTube up on Veteran’s Day:
On another note, I grew up in the South in the Reagan era, in a region that has always paid particular attention to its military heroes and in a political climate where pride in the US military was again pre-eminent. So when I spoke to the combat veterans in my family about war, pressing them for stories of heroism and glory, I was inevitably confused when they rarely would say even a word about their time in battle. They often told tales of their travels to faraway places, of friends they had made from across the country, and especially of the good times they had trying to pass the interminable boredom while waiting to fight again. But even when pressed, even when knowing that I was waiting to lionize them after a tale of danger, they were all reluctant to open up about facing the enemy. My grandfather served in the Pacific aboard a destroyer. His brother flew in the Army Air Force in Europe, including during the latter days of the Battle of the Bulge. And my other grandfather’s brother fought in Korea while my grandfather trained Marines in the States.
To this day, the one who has opened up the most about his experiences in the military is my grandfather, the one who never deployed to combat. When I was in my early twenties, he told me in one of our usual backyard conversations over cigarettes and coffee in the Louisiana heat that he was incredibly bitter about the end of his career in the Marines. He had been picked to view the detonation of an atomic bomb, which he believed and still believes to be an honor. But after the detonation of the bomb, the unit to which he belonged was ordered to conduct maneuvers around ground zero and return for an extended period of R & R. It was only later that he realized that he had been selected as a guinea pig, that the US military had only been interested in seeing if a force could be deployed to a target in the aftermath of a nuclear bombing and still remain effective after radiation exposure.
I don’t mean to turn this post into a sob story about my grandfather getting misused by the military, because while he was bitter about his experience, he did not regret becoming a Marine. Neither did any of my other veteran relatives, despite experiencing things too horrible to share with those who did not go through the same trials and privations.
What I’m trying to get at, in my own clumsy way, is that veterans have it rough, and considering what they have gone through, it’s only fair to honor the sacrifice they made. And no, I’m not just talking about putting up a post on Veteran’s Day, or filming a short video, although it is important to vocalize a big “Thank You.”
I’m also talking about giving a small monetary token of thanks. I’m giving $11 to the Eleven Eleven campaign, which aims to raise $11 million from 11 million Americans to contribute to the welfare of US veterans. I know times are tight for a lot of you out there, because it is for me, too, but this is a really good cause for others who have given a lot more of themselves.