My confuser was down for a couple of days, so I missed posting my own salutes to the honored folks who had served before, with, and after me.
My grandfathers, of course, both served in W.W.I.
Grandad Carnes came back so committed to pacifism that he would not defend himself when a bully attacked him.
Grandad Pigg was much more enamored of his adventures as a Navy man ... even though he spent three days swimming the North Sea when his ship was torpedoed.
My step-Grandad Clifton Talbert was in the trenches ... and he would talk about it on occasion and kept his VFW magazines all his life.
For myself, however, I was recently extended an honor which I don't really deserve. The American Legion (for whom I hold good feelings because they didn't discriminate against my Viet Nam friends like the VFW did back then) informed me that I was now defined as a combat era vet. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I deserve it all. It's a long story, but I never served a single day under fire or even out of the country.
Now that I am legally part of the gang whom I always honored, however, I feel ever more keenly the struggle for them to be treated properly by we stay-at-homes who never made the horrendous sacrifices still being demanded of all troops of free countries. I've been under fire during some violent strike settings, and it always amazed me that these men functioned, survived, and came home after enduring endless days of a thousand times more intense struggles. Yes, a few of them came back quite damaged in their spirit, but most came back to be folks who existed at what I felt was a higher level than mine. Who had day after day put all their dreams and all their selves on the line, often for things they didn't really understand.
Great history, to me, is actually the art, the music, the food, the discoveries, and so forth of a time; but I am cognizant of the overwhelming fact that none of that would survive or even be possible without the good soldier and the stained knight.
Which, in part, is why I wargame.
My games are often funny, always trivial, and the worst wounds occur when I'm trimming the flash off of a new figure. But in the background, it's a way to honor the real heroes. Not the great conquerors, most of whom could rightly be seen as monsters even when as benign as the Persians; but the young officer bravely holding the flag staff in a square at Waterloo thinking that he'd never heard of a battle where everybody died ... as it seemed was happening all around him then.
Nor do I forget the fellows who fought on the other side. It is popular today to hate the German soldier, but ninety percent of them had real reason given their limited knowledge (deliberately limited by their rulers, just as occurs today in dictatorial or fanatical regimes)to believe their cause was just. Even if they did not, they still felt the need to stand for their country against war's destruction.
So the guys who marched so far barefoot under Jackson or struggled across the sand for Rommel I honor too.
We may never be free of the horrors of war until the Parousia, but until then, I honor the good folks, now boys and girls, who willingly march into hell for me or for their own families.