Veterans Day

Posted by Katherine | November 12, 2008 – 10:31 pm

Madison Guy (who may be probutcool — hard to tell) is an editor, writer, and photographer in Madison, Wisconsin. Yesterday, on Veterans Day, he took the long way to work. Via a memorial to those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “[T]he markers seemed to go on forever,” he said, “stretching all the way down the long hill […] The sense of loss and waste was overwhelming.” Here’s part of what he saw.

Veterans Day memorial
[Madison Guy / Flickr]

About 1.64 million US troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 30,000 have been wounded in action and, as of today, 4,821 killed in action. Almost 20 percent of returning veterans report symptoms of PTSD or severe depression.

However Obama’s goal “to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan” takes shape, more Americans will deploy to both countries, more will die, and more will return home with physical and psychological injuries.

If you’re a civilian unaffiliated with the military, it’s really easy not to think about these veterans. That crushes registered nurse Clara Hart. She works with wounded veterans in a US military hospital (and blogs about it for The Sandbox, a cool4pro group milblog).

With all the talk of the elections, the economy, the housing crisis and the financial bailouts, for too many Americans the wars have slipped into nonexistence. I was sickened listening to the radio one morning this past week; reporters speaking with people waiting in line at various polling places found the most prevalent thought in the minds of Americans was the economy. What about our troops? Has America forgotten our sons and daughters who fight on foreign soil? Or their families who struggle silently alone? […]

While I personally continue to fight against compassion fatigue and PTSD I will remain where I am, caring for the veterans of OIF, OEF and GWOT. I only wish I didn’t feel as if awareness of our troops has faded into nonexistence and that the wars we fight have been forgotten. You see we pay a heavy price, and for that price is it too much to ask America at least remember?

Tyler Greene from Pittsburgh took this shot in Afghanistan. Maybe it’s a self-portrait? Its mood seemed a good reminder to do that remembering.

In Afghanistan
[hell mouth / Flickr]

Alex Horton from Austin, Texas, (featured previously here) served in the Army in Iraq before going back to school. Yesterday he explained that every day is Veterans Day.

Every day that goes by is a day apart from the men of second platoon. I have replaced my battlefield peers with classrooms full of students that don’t know the stories or even the names of each other. I haven’t tried to make friends. Why bother? My friends are not in Austin. They’re in Chicago, Brooklyn, Green Bay, San Diego. […]

Whether at work, school or home, I cannot go ten minutes without thinking of the men I came home with, or the men we brought back home. Like I’ve said before, every day is Memorial Day. Every day is Veterans Day. My entire being is seared by the tragedy and triumph of war, an invisible mark I wear at every waking moment. My life will be spent trying to sort out what happened out there in the desert, but today is a reflection on the men I served with, both living and dead. It’s to pay respect to the uniform that millions of Americans have worn and will wear.

Alex says, “Veterans Day is not just for us, it’s for everyone to remember, lest we forget the cost of war.”

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