Yesterday was Veteran's day, and I thought briefly about the veterans I'm related to, to see if there was anyone I needed to call and thank for their service. One grandfather was in the Army in the Pacific theatre of WWII, but he died in 2000. The other grandfather was in the Air Corps in mostly Africa in WWII, but he died in 1986. Both of my husband's grandfathers also served in WWII, and are both also dead. I have no aunts or uncles that were veterans, and my dad found ways to avoid the draft (including going to seminary), so no dice there. So, I quietly thanked all the folks that serve/have served in the military, national guard, police force, firefighting lines, and the like. But I didn't worry about calling any relatives to thank them personally.
And then today, I remembered my sister is in the Navy. What kind of a terrible person does that make me?
In my defense, she's in school on the east coast pursuing a degree so they can make her an officer faster than the 20 years it would have taken her as an enlisted person. So, I think of my sister in college working on a nuclear engineering degree (which she insists on calling nuk-u-lur, since her "commander-in-chief pronounces it that way"), rather than as a member of the active military. Of course, she is an active military member, and has been so for five years, this month. She is a talented person, though, and has managed to not have ever been stationed on a ship, or anywhere outside of the continental US in her years in the Navy.
Also in my defense, she'd likely be offended if I called her to thank her for her service to her country. This has actually been a point of contention between her and our dad in the past years. He is so proud to have a member of the military in the family that he asks her to bring her dress uniform home with her so she can wear it to church. And she doesn't want to be paraded around as some sort of statement. She also feels really bad being viewed as a military member when she hasn't experienced the kinds of things that her colleagues from boot camp have endured. She feels that degrades their contributions to recognize her for hers.
So, while she's in the Navy, I'll continue to be thankful for all the other folks that are serving currently in scary places in the world. And I won't worry too much that I didn't call her yesterday. But if I had, I would have asked her how that Fluids class was going, rather than talking about Veteran's day.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
3 months ago