Sometimes when I think of my grandfather, it is hard to remember that he was just a hair older than I am now when he went to war for the first time. The notion of leaving Ridge and Rolan behind as I head off for foreign lands and deadly battles seems beyond unreal to me, yet when he was at this time in his life, he was doing just that. As I have gotten older, I've come to understand him more, although I must admit that I'm still far from knowing the inter workings of his souls. I suppose it is the same for all old warriors.
But, nonetheless, having been raised so closely to and with him, the faces of veterans took on a new meaning with me. Born just five years after Vietnam ended, his wounds were still fresh by the time I came around. I've always appreciated the honest way in which he spoke of his experiences there, in the deep jungles of Asia, although I don't think any less of veterans from that same era who don't speak with such ease.
As you read this blog, I'm sure my feelings about our current war are pretty easy to see. But, either way, I'm still my grandfather's granddaughter. Military members have no say when and where they are sent, they go with a willing confidence in the commander who sent them.
If I said this war hadn't changed some of my feelings about service, I would be lying. For example, when I watch This Week with George Stephanopolous every Sunday, my breath is taken away by the names of our fallen service who've been lost during the week. And almost always the age next to their names just happens to be smaller than mine. I can't help to be taken back to when I was 18, the year I graduated from high school and embarked on my own, or 21, the year I came home from the city and moved into my first non-apartment home-on-my-own, or 24, the year I had my first child. I see that age next to their names and I realize all the things I've experiences since I was THAT age, the age of their death, and I understand why my grandfather took his job so seriously. You see, as a Lt. Col., he was one of the oldest man in his platoon. He was responsible for the lives living and fighting along side him. The closer I get to the age he was when he was doing this, the more awesome his obligations seem to me. I think most Americans have a developed opinion of the war in Vietnam, but either way, I can say my grandfather and his comrades served like warrior poet. They answered the call of their nation. They aren't afforded the liberty to question that call, they just went.
So, to the veterans reading this, I thank you for all you have done and all you continue to do. With each year I grow older and, moreover, each year that my children grow older, I am more awestruck by military service.