Passing along..... he says it quite well. Friends: It falls to us, we who have served, to ensure that the reason for the “holiday” is to remember. For many people in the world the name of November 11th has not changed from the original, Armistice Day. It was the day that brought an end to the slaughter of millions of uniformed men from across six continents. None of those who fought in the Great War are alive today. Not one. Those who did not fall victim to nerve gas, mustard gas, blister agents, gaseous chlorine, the mass utilization of machine guns, excruciating artillery barrages, mindless and futile infantry charges, or the Spanish flu have, in the last year, been welcomed into the open arms of Morpheus via that even more deadly weapon we call age. It’s always nice to get a few bucks off at your favorite chain restaurant, and perhaps something free from your barber or the local hardware store because you’re a veteran. Those of us who take advantage of such commercial “gimmies” should remember all of those who have gone before us, some prematurely to a grave often unmarked or, if marked, a grave without a name. Officially there are no unknowns from the Viet Nam war, and perhaps that’s true. Perhaps we do know the name of every shard of bone collected to date, but there are one hell of a lot of people still “missing in action” and for whom there is an unmarked grave. The root of the word “decimate” is from 20 generations ago. It means “every tenth unit” of this or that thing being counted. If we hear that the ranks of a unit are decimated, we are being told that every tenth man is incapacitated – dead or wounded. That word is still being used, but it is ignorance that makes us believe it is something more than our ancestors knew. In modern warfare we employ more efficient killing machines. Even the most primitive participant in today’s battles can muster force sufficient to decimate the ranks of an opponent. There is no term with which to identify carnage of a greater nature. Combat is a house of horrors, one which we cannot enter without those countless men and women to whom we refer as “support.” Those who fed us, who clothed us, who housed us, who entertained us, who armed us, who healed our owies, who performed dog robber rituals, who transported us, who kept those vital records, who put us in aluminum boxes so we could go home early, and who cleaned up our messes, those were the source of our power. They made sure we could go out there and die for our country. They often envied us our daily “heroics,” so much so that they would trade jobs for even a few hours of playing tag with death. They usually never knew how much we envied the programmed ennui of their quiet existence. In my PBR unit, 85 men strong, the odds were one in six that a specific person might not come home at the end of any given patrol. One in six. Ten or twelve men whose mission was to engage numerically superior forces. But then, twenty was a numerically superior force, wasn’t it? One of us being lost was decimation, right? We would flay the jungle with automatic weapons and rockets and bombs, a technology the enemy could not hope to match in our theater of combat and yet one against which they achieved victory. They, too, knew the bony face of decimation. Wear your decorations Monday. From Good Conduct to the Medal of Honor, pin on a simple ribbon bar or slap on a complete set of bojangle medals, but please do wear them. If you can still fit into your uniform, think about wearing that. Do your neighbors and fellow citizens know you have served? If they don’t, it’s because you haven’t let it be known. Anyone can scare up a uniform and some hokey medals and pretend to be a hero. It is we who are not and never were great heroes that have upheld the honor of those to whom we pay tribute. So what if some clown pretends to have earned the Navy Cross and gets some free drinks? Ask that joker how many Legion of Honor assemblies he’s attended, and what the Legion of Honor is. Then rest comfortably in the knowledge that although you may not wear decorations for exceptional valor, you earned every “I was there” bit of color you display. Show me one person who has ever earned the National Defense Service medal and I’ll show you a person who, in the right place and given the right set of circumstances, might have earned the Medal of Honor. Veterans’ Day. Not “Combat Veterans’ Day,” not “Dead Veterans’ Day,” not “Glorious Defender of the Homeland Veterans’ Day.” Just Veterans’ Day. Our day.