Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

I started off the day in a rather cranky mood. The bubbly people on the morning chat shows were a little too full of good cheer in wishing people a "happy" Veterans Day. I'm old enough to remember when the day was commemorated with a mood of sober reflection -- if it fell on a school day there'd be the moment of silence at 11 a.m. Back in the '60s it was still a day to think seriously about sacrifice and the real costs of war. Now it's a day to go hit Dillard's for a good deal on Ralph Lauren sheets (50% off).

The photo is of my uncle Bill, Wilho Oikarinen. He served in the European theater during World War II as a jeep driver, was at the Battle of the Bulge, had multiple jeeps blown out from under him, came home with a Bronze Star and multiple Purple Hearts -- and never, ever talked about the war. My father once described my uncle Bill as "the bravest man he'd ever known." My dad was in the Navy, trained as an electrician's mate, was in the Pacific theater, and saved his reminiscing for stories about being in Japan after the war ended. I'm kind of glad neither of them is still around now to see their sacrifices being trivialized with linen sales.


  1. I agree 100%...and what makes this the best Veterans day? it's the last time that bush will be commander in chief on this day..

  2. I understand the sentiment, and agree that we ought to take at least some time on Veterans' Day to honor the Veterans, both living and dead, who have fought in wars on our behalf.... In fact, I spent the morning of Veterans' Day in a parade with my daughter and her girl scout troop.

    But (arguing the other side, as we attorneys do so often), I also believe that the Veterans fought, at least in part, for our way of life. As Americans, we expect to be free, safe, and generally wealthy enough to shop for necessary and/or frivolous items nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays. Whether folks shop the sales intentionally as a tribute or not, it *is* a tribute to our Veterans that we feel so free and so safe. If we had wanted a world in which our *only* option on State Holidays would be to spend the day bowing down to our leaders and war heroes, we could have skipped the fighting part and simply allowed the Nazis to take over.

    In other words, I do believe we can honor our Veterans by cheerfully basking in our American freedoms and engaging in typically American activities such as shopping, golfing, hosting parties, watching sports, or whatever else we choose, as well as by sitting at home saying prayers of thanks.

    That said, I do always make a point to say "thank you" to anyone I see in a military uniform on Veterans' Day.

  3. Seems like everything that warrants a day off demands a sale. Face it... 7 out of 10 of us are shallow, not that bright, and intellectually lazy as hell. The Europeans, especially the ceremony at Verdun, seem to realize the meaning of the day much more clearly and soberly.


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