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11/4/2013 1:39:00 PM
'Thank you for your service'
AP photo
Zach Boyd fights Taliban wearing red T, flip-flops, and
AP photo
Zach Boyd fights Taliban wearing red T, flip-flops, and "I LOVE NY" boxers.

At 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, America observes Veterans’ Day. This marks when the artillery finally fell silent in Europe, ending the ungodly butchery of World War I.

Only in recent years have many veterans of America’s seemingly non-stop wars felt safe to acknowledge their sacrifice and service. Iraq and Afghanistan provided the tipping points.

Some now take advantage of long overdue kindnesses being offered, such as complimentary Veterans’ Day lunches and dinners.
After Vietnam, many drug-crazed, violence-prone returnees, as we were called, kept our heads down, keeping quiet about our service.

We were mindful of the public anger directed our way, as if we were to blame for the debacle in Southeast Asia, and not the grandees in Washington.

Our welcome home committee back then consisted of longhairs camped out at San Francisco International Airport.

They spent their days getting high and jeering at returning GIs and Marines who got off the buses and out of the taxis that delivered them from the Freedom Bird that landed at Travis Air Force base near Sacramento. The soldiers brushed aside the taunts as they embarked on the  next leg of their re-entry into civilian life.

Many Vietnam-era troopers and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans still struggle. War can break people.

Thank heaven for the Veterans Administration. Many warriors would be much worse off without the VA and its health care, in spite of Jon Stewart’s quarterly rants.

Some of us are now learning to shake off our anger when some well-intentioned person says, 45 years too late, “Thank you for your service.” Thank you, indeed.

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