Patterico's Pontifications


Veterans’ Day Open Thread

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:25 pm

[guest post by JVW]

With sincere thanks to all those who have served our country during times of conflict.

Has any nation in the history of the world ever expended so much of its treasure — especially as measured by the lives of its citizens — in defense of others around the globe? I understand that we have all grown weary with unending overseas entanglements, and we no longer appear to have the gratitude of those whom we have been protecting, but it’s difficult to imagine a world without the United States striving to keep the peace.


24 Responses to “Veterans’ Day Open Thread”

  1. Tonight I will be hanging out with a veteran of the first Gulf War. I am in that lucky generation whose major armed conflict was that one-sided affair, but those men and women answered the call to duty just as surely as those of the other wars.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. We extol our soldiers, demonize their enemies, and seldom give a thought to the vast numbers of civilians whose lives and futures are sacrificed.

    Sherman had it right, “War is hell.”

    John B Boddie (31ccf0)

  3. Not all veterans were lucky enough to have “served our country during times of conflict.”

    kaf (8d3b64)

  4. Has any nation in the history of the world ever expended so much of its treasure — especially as measured by the lives of its citizens — in defense of others around the globe? I understand that we have all grown weary with unending overseas entanglements, and we no longer appear to have the gratitude of those whom we have been protecting, but it’s difficult to imagine a world without the United States striving to keep the peace.

    We defend others to ensure our own safety. We stand for others’ freedom to preserve our own freedom.

    Because the current administration treats our servicemen as mercenaries for hire, this point is increasingly forgotten.

    President Bush’s second inaugural address articulated a more uplifting, and American, vision that we would do well to remember this Veterans Day:

    We have seen our vulnerability—and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny—prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder—violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

    We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

    America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

    So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

    This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

    The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America’s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.

    My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people from further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America’s resolve, and have found it firm.

    We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

    Dave (1bb933)

  5. One of the things that is different about Albuquerque from LA, is the respect showed veterans.

    Reserved parking in many lots.
    Discounts for active duty military.
    Open displays of pride in the armed forces.

    Just a lot of things I never saw in 50 years living in Los Angeles.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  6. Sherman also said “War is all Hell.”

    Kevin M (19357e)

  7. A number of restaurants near me are offering free meals today for veterans and active duty military.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  8. Not all veterans were lucky enough to have “served our country during times of conflict.”

    That’s a fair point, and I don’t want to neglect those who served honorably in peacetime, including many family and friends of mine. But given that we peg our remembrance to Armistice Day, I think it’s appropriate to give a special mention to those who served during wartime and other conflicts, most especially those in combat roles.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  9. The British once had an ’empire’ defending others, too. Then they didn’t. Sterling was one the reserve currency of the world, as well. Then it wasn’t.

    Draftees, who didn’t want to, but went when called anyway back in the day- earn especially high regard. But conflicts post WW2/Korea/Vietnam times remain souring. Less about ‘defending liberty’ and more about ‘protecting assets.’ Recall a TV interview/a Gulf chopper pilot… who was later killed.

    Never forgot it. Thinking about Marie Rossi… as well as McMahon and Judge, the last two Americans to die in Vietnam. Great loss; much waste.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  10. 9. We haven’t fought a war to win since WWII. And the more I learn about American history, the more it seems to me that the Pax Americana we’ve enjoyed for the last 100+ years is being squandered. As much as I respect and admire our men and women in uniform, I have no use for the civilian-politician weasels leading them from the safety and comfort of Babylon-on-Potomac.

    Gryph (08c844)

  11. Navy Submarine, Missing for 75 Years, Is Found Off Okinawa

    A 75-year-old mystery has been solved, and the families of 80 American sailors lost at sea will now have closure: the U.S.S. Grayback has finally been found.

    It was hidden from discovery all this time by a single errant digit.

    The mystery began on Jan. 28, 1944, when the Grayback, one of the most successful American submarines of World War II, sailed out of Pearl Harbor for its 10th combat patrol. By late March it was more than three weeks overdue to return, and the Navy listed the submarine as missing and presumed lost. ….

    Rip Murdock (769249)

  12. Thanks to those who made it and those who didn’t and those who only ever came part-way back.

    Nic (896fdf)

  13. When my parents moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 1968, I had just finished second grade. My mother took the job as apartment manager and made me grounds keeper and pool cleaner. It was a lot of work for a seven year old, but it paid $20/month. While my younger sister and brothers got to run, play and swim, I was mowing, trimming, sweeping, picking up trash, and cleaning the pool, checking the pH level and adding chlorine. I didn’t complain, just did my job.

    Then, when I finished the fifth grade, my father gave me a reward for all the work I’d done the last three years. He bought me a dirt bike. It was just a little 80cc Yamaha, not street legal, didn’t have turn signals, but it was a motorcycle and it was mine. There were these two big fields behind the complex I could ride around on.

    That year this group of guys had rented a couple of apartments for the summer. They were bikers. These guys rode totally tricked out Harleys, with extended front forks and elaborate paint schemes, choppers. They were veterans. A few served in Viet Nam, most served in Korea, but the leader had served in WW II. He wore a German helmet he had taken off a dead Nazi.

    That’s who the original biker gangs were, war veterans. They weren’t criminals or hippies, as commonly portrayed today. They were men who bravely served their country and fought overseas, often under horrific conditions. When they returned, they bought Harleys, authentic American motorcycles, and set to ride across the United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave. That’s what these guys were doing. They were determined to tour every state, and they just happened to be in South Texas that year.

    One day they saw me out riding around on the field, and I don’t know got a kick out of me, a little kid, ten years old, on a little dirt bike. So they waved me over.

    “Hey, kid, you want to ride with us?”


    “You’re going to need a jacket.”

    I ran to my apartment and grabbed a Levi’s jacket, and ran back.

    “You’re going to need some patches.”

    They brought out these cigar boxes full of patches. That’s what veterans do, they swap and collect patches from other units and all branches of the military. They gave me some and made me an official member of their gang. I got my mother to sew them on to my jacket, and then I was ready to ride.

    Now, it was against all sorts of laws for a child without a license to ride a dirt bike on the streets, but as long as I was with these guys, no cop would dare give me a ticket or even pull me over. I was in a biker gang. My mother expressed some concern, but my father told her not to worry.

    He was a veteran too. Served in the Navy as a Morse code operator, never saw combat, didn’t serve during war time, but that doesn’t matter to veterans. A veteran is a veteran–it’s a brotherhood. My father knew these men would never allow anything bad to happen to his son. These were hardened men, battle tested. They would die before anything bad happened to me. He knew that. I was protected.

    Yeah, ten years old, I was in a biker gang, with patches and everything. I didn’t get to trick out my little motorbike, but that didn’t matter. We rode across the Valley, all the way to Padre Island for a weekend. And I got to tell you, these guys really looked after me, especially Eric, the leader. He knew that my little bike could only drive so many miles, and we would pull into these gas stations. Fill the tank, check the oil. Yes, sir.

    It wasn’t pampering. It was disciplining. I had my own money, so they didn’t have to provide for me. But they always looked out for me, had my back. They expected me to carry my own weight.

    It was the greatest summer of my life, riding with these guys. We stuck to the back roads mostly, but they always had maps. Not because they didn’t know where they were, but to figure out the safest route to their destination. When you’re on a motorcycle, stay off the highway and aboid congested traffic.

    That’s what I learned from these guys, how to travel and stay safe. When you’re in unfamiliar territory, use maps to find the least troublesome route.

    Whenever I think of veterans, I think of them.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  14. Has any nation in the history of the world ever expended so much of its treasure — especially as measured by the lives of its citizens — in defense of others around the globe?

    In terms of “the lives of its citizens,” the British, French and Russians could probably claim higher expenditure.

    In WWI, the British entered the war in response to the violation of Belgium’s neutrality. The British Empire lost 908,000 killed in that war, compared to about 117,000 for the late-entering United States. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British lost 19,340 dead in a single day – about half what the US lost in the entire Korean War.

    In WWII, the British entered the war in response to the violation of Poland’s neutrality. The United Kingdom lost about 450,000 dead, compared to 420,000 for the United States.

    France, which entered WWI as a result of the Austrian attack on Serbia, fared even worse, losing 1.3 million killed in that war, which is about the same as the total American deaths in all wars going back to the revolution. France lost 600,000 dead in WWII, although about 60% of those were civilians.

    It is a bit of stretch to say the Soviet Union fought “in defense of others” in WWII, although the Red Army liberated the worst death camps and arguably the post-war communist dictatorship in Poland was an improvement over the Nazi occupation. Soviet deaths in WWII average out to 19,014 per day – nearly same as the first day of the Battle of Somme – every day, for 1,420 days.

    We are fortunate that after the Civil War, our military learned to win by throwing shells and bombs at the enemy, instead of men.

    Dave (1bb933)

  15. Men with ‘integrity’ do not commit plagiarism, Joey.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  16. Who is the biggest threat to veterans benefits. The pentagon who would rather spend the money on expensive weapons then on veterans as they are of no further use to the pentagon.

    asset (8c4fbe)

  17. Gawain’s Ghost

    Best post I read in a long time.

    My father was Vietnam vet. Medevac.67-68.

    I think it never left him. He cared for people and life after in a way that sticks with me to this day.

    Echo (e92c55)

  18. In terms of “the lives of its citizens,” the British, French and Russians could probably claim higher expenditure.

    They expended their citizenry in defense of their own home. Tell me who else ventured thousands of miles to fight for someone else.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  19. JVW, would answering of duty by commonwealth subjects to European war be or not considered “defense of home”? It does call to mind what would Britain have thought and done if its Canadians and ANZACs had said told the crown to pound sand (Gallipolli alone should have given permanent pause).

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  20. ”They expended their citizenry in defense of their own home. Tell me who else ventured thousands of miles to fight for someone else.”
    JVW (54fd0b) — 11/12/2019 @ 12:50 am

    The Brits, French and Russians were also obligated by treaties signed to advance their own interests, whether or not it actually turned out that way. The U.S. had no such obligations.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  21. Late to the party but I hope everyone thanked a few veterans for their service yesterday.

    harkin (337580)

  22. I thank the veterans because, without their putting their lives on the line for this country, Mrs. Montagu and I would not have been able to watch Midway in the comfort of the Cinebarre, with a pitcher of IPA and a plate of onion rings to complete the experience.

    Paul Montagu (00daa1)

  23. I spent the day before Veterans Day with two Army veterans whose 3-year old daughter was in the Pediatric ER for having an uncontrollable seizure, while her her 1-year old sister remained at home with caregivers as she is recovering from major surgery. I was privileged to take them a meal on Veterans Day because it was a simple act of thankfulness for their service and sacrifice. Please keep these two young vets in prayer as they have already endured the dad going through multiple heart surgeries. Life has dealt them a tough hand, yet they are firm in their faith and strong from their training but deeply worried about their little ones. I share this only to focus on them and the opportunities we are given to demonstrate thanks and gratitude to our vets in return for their sacrifices. There are vets all over in need, and grateful for any hand of hope reaching out to them.

    Dana (cb74ca)

  24. Echo, you have no idea what those guys meant to me. A ten-year old on a little dirt bike riding with veterans on Harleys, how many kids get to experience anything like that?

    We toured the whole Valley, all the way to Padre Island. It was an incredible experience.

    The thing is, they never treated me like a boy, which is what I was. From the beginning, they treated me as a man, like I was one of them. That’s why my father entrusted them with me. He knew that as long as I was with them, I was safe.

    I can’t really describe the experience, but it made me so proud to ride with these guys. They always looked out for me, but at the same time they expected me to take care of myself. It was the first time I felt like an adult.

    Nobody messed with us. And I mean, nobody. Wherever we went, when we road into town, we were treated with respect. And fear, we were a biker gang.

    It wasn’t like I was their mascot or protégé, I was one of them. But if anyone had ever hassled me, he would have had the living shit beaten out of him. This is what I’m talking about.

    Speaking of the military, my younger brother is also a veteran. This guy as a child could not understand mathematics, not even rudimentary arithmetic, couldn’t read a clock, all the way through high school. My mother made these index cards of the mathematic tables, and she would drill him with them night after night. I kept trying to explain a clock to him. Dude, it’s so simple. Big hand hour, little hand minutes. He couldn’t understand.

    After high school, he enrolled in college, and dropped out after one semester with a .4 grade average (that’s four Fs and one D). Then he enrolled in the Navy. How he was able to pass the ASVAB, I will never know, but he did.

    Being in the Navy did something to him. Next thing you know, he’s an electrical engineer on a nuclear submarine–his crew actually performed surveillance for the bombing raid on Gaddafi. (That’s top secret information.) Then he’s teaching electrical engineering at Annapolis!

    This child, this boy, who could not understand arithmetic or read a clock, no matter what my parents or I could do to teach him, suddenly becomes this nuclear technology expert? I can’t explain it, except to say that being in the Navy did something to him.

    As proud as I am for his service, I am more amazed at what the Navy did with him.

    They took a wayward child who could not understand arithmetic or read a clock, and made his into a nuclear technologist! Wow, that’s just Wow.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

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