Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans' Day 2002

I am not looking forward to the Veterans' Day ceremony at the old folks home this afternoon.  Here's what happened two years ago.

November 11 is the date that the World War, sometimes called World War I, ended. It was the date of Armistice Day, and until we had a few more wars, was worth celebrating. Now we would need a separate Armistice Day for World War II (August 14), Korean Conflict(), Viet Nam Debacle(), Desert Storm(), so we lump them all together and call them Veteran’s Day. Practically every male is a veteran of some war.

At our Veteran’s Day celebration we raised the new flag, sang the Star Spangled Banner, and then, horrors, asked the veterans to tell about their war experiences.

Asking a veteran to tell about his war experiences is like asking a grandmother if her grandchildren have done anything cute lately, or asking to see someone’s vacation slides. You might as well kick open the flood gates of Hoover Dam. There is going to be a gush that cannot be stemmed.

I was aware of this. I was called on first, and tried to set an example by boiling my war experience into ONE sentence. But no, I was followed by mumbling Bob.

Bob was at D-day. Bob was loaded. No Alzheimer’s here. He remembered everything and was going to tell us about it. He can only mumble, and mumble he did. Jacki (The Activites Director) had to interpret.

BOB; mumble mumble mumble.

JACKI: HE HAD TO WADE ASHORE

BOB; mumble mumble mumble.

JACKI; HE DIRECTED THE TANKS TO THE DEPLOYMENT AREA.

And on and on. Finally,

BOB; mumble mumble mumble.

JACKI; HE WAS ON DETACHED DUTY, THANK YOU, BOB.

Bob sat. John rose.

John remembered the war better even than Bob.

JOHN; mumble mumble mumble.

JACKI: JOHN WENT OVERSEAS ON THE QUEEN MARY ON THE VERY DAY THE NORMANDIE BURNED UP.

JOHN: mumble mumble mumble.

JACKI: JOHN’S BUNK WAS NUMBER 323 ON E DECK.

JOHN: mumble mumble mumble.

JACKI: JOHN’S DOG WAS NAMED KING. THANK YOU JOHN.

John sat down and Mark stood up.

Mark was born in America of Japanese descent. He was interned. He was interned in county fair grounds, right near I street. “If you wandered too near I street they shot at you.”

Then in spite of being interned, he was drafted. In spite of being considered a security risk, he was assigned to military intelligence. Mark was, and is, pretty bitter, but he admitted “This is a great country. They can admit their mistakes. After fifty years, they apologized and awarded us $20,000 each. The apology would have meant more if we hadn’t had to ask for it.”

The ceremony wound on until we came to Cas, the cook, who is still in the reserves, and expects to be called up to fight in Iraq. He does not expect Hussein to back down to UN demands. He expects there will be a war and he will be in it. He did not sound bitter.

Postscript: (today 2004) Cas' unit was called up, and I am not sure whether they went to Iraq or stayed stateside.

3 comments:

poetmom1968 said...

I like the whole Veteran's day ceremony.  Even though there was alot of mumbling.:)  So many memories I'm sure.  Cas probably isn't looking forward to being called.  Especially if he has a wife and children, ugh...
Steph

ryanagi said...

I wish asking about his war experiences would open the flood gates with my Dad. I would really like to hear more about his military career. He is not one of those chatty types, I guess. :-)  

alicec33 said...

lol, I LOVE it! Mumble, mumble, mumble...