Monday, November 10, 2014

An Unpopular Question for Veteran's Day

A few minutes ago I was on the first floor of the building where I work talking to a young man in charge of Valencia's Veteran's Day ceremony.
Valencia had a large display of photos of men and women from this college who had served in foreign wars since September 11th.    Valencia also had music playing.
I was about to give an exam in a room very close to where the speakers where located and was concerned that my students would be distracted while trying to take their exam. 
As I was politely and respectfully asking the coordinator if the music could be turned down a little a young man standing next to him bluntly and tersely said, "This music is for dead soldiers."
He proceeded to tell me that his grandfather and father had preceded him in service to our country and informed me that he had lost half his foot in battle.  I did not know if he was being truthful or not but he persisted in his contempt for my mere request that music be turned down.  At one point he said, "While you were in college, I was serving my country."   This was an interesting claim for two reasons.  First, he did not know anything about my past.  Second, given his age it is more likely that while I was in college, he was not even born.
Yet, his willingness to give me his biography of service in the military - and his claim that I was disrespectful to our veterans - reminds me of something that I have been bothered by for a long time. 
I seem to recall reading, on many occasions, that when veterans of World War II came home they simply got back to work, kept largely quiet and tried to re-establish their lives as civilians.
I do not believe there where any hats sold that read, "World War II Veteran" or constant reminders - by the veterans - that they had served.
My grandfather - several generations removed - served in the New Jersey militia during the Revolutionary War.  His grandson served in the army in New Orleans in 1803.  My father served in missile silos during the height of the Cold War.  My wife's uncle dropped into Normandy on D-Day.   I never served in the military but have spent 25 years teaching the principles our military stands for. 
Should I have a hat or shirt or jacket or bumper sticker made to mention any of this?
No disrespect intended, but when did our country lose its sense of doing ones duty without constantly reminding everyone that your duty had been done?
There have been untold numbers of Americans who have contributed with swords, guns and words (see Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson & Thomas Paine to name a few) without succumbing to the temptation to constantly remind people what they had done.
This should be particularly useful to veterans of more modern wars.  None were drafted, all knew what was going on in the Middle East and no one has treated them like we treated Vietnam veterans upon their return.
If there is anything today's veterans should be pointing out to the rest of us it is this:
Our nation no longer stands for the principles of liberty that the Revolutionary War and World War II veterans fought for.  We have become a nation of characterless, welfare-seeking, selfie-taking people who do not know anything - and care even less - about what our veterans were fighting for.
That reality is worth a bumper sticker.


  1. Mr. Chambless,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. This was a very thought-provoking one.
    This question is unrelated, but I also wondered what your opinion was on the Obama Administration's request for over $6 Billion in Ebola aid? I'd love to read your thoughts on it.
    - Lacy Ball

  2. Lacy

    Since this is not a national defense issue, our sending of any money over seas to fight Ebola does not make as much sense as much tighter controls over entry into our country from residents of those impacted nations. I do not have a good answer for how to do that either though...

  3. Amen brother! My Grandpa served in World War II and never once tried to use it to his advantage. He started a machine shop business, upon arriving home from the war, working 20 hour days and became a very successful entrepreneur. He not only got on with his life, but made the best of it. My grandfather was a true libertarian; one who would rather live off 4 hours of sleep and 20 hours of work than receive one cent from the government.

    1. Thank you, Doug! My hometown was filled with people like your grandfather - who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the Pacific, etc. and never said a word about it. Unreal men those were.

  4. Clap, clap, clap. Only because I know you would never disrespect servicemen and women. I know that you have the highest level of respect for them. I've heard you speak of those you admire (your wife's uncle immediately comes to mind). You know I am a veteran as well and had I been manning that display, and you asked me to turn the music down, especially if you told me your students were taking a test (and trust me, you need to concentrate on those babies...:) ), I simply would have turned it down and when your class was over, turned it back up. I saw the display and felt it was beautiful. I also am proud of my service. But people are far too sensitive these days and you make a good point. I've never gone up to an old person, veteran or not, and had them tell me that they were a veteran. Not even as early as veteran's from Vietnam. They are far more humble than those of us that served in peacetime or in current wars. It's a shame. It's not surprising when you consider the current state of our Country in general. The disrespect for our elders, for oneself and for each other.

    Don't worry Professor Chambless, I for one....know for a fact, that you would NEVER disrespect any soldier, current or past.

  5. Many thanks, Terri. Good to know that someone out there understands where I was coming from.