Veterans Day Reflections
same intensity and while we note and mourn the loss of life, during the Vietnam War, we saw the caskets unloaded every night on the evening
For the first time, I attended the Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee and witnessed that the elders, who opened the festival, were Native
American veterans. They marched; some in their uniforms, others in traditional dress, but all behind the American flag and the flags designating
their branch of service. They were given a place of honor and it was humbling to look at all those who fought for this country, despite this country’
s gross mistreatment of them, their lands and their culture. There were white haired elders marching, as well as young soldiers and I could only
wonder what their experiences were serving in the services long ago and even today.
Many members of my family served in the military and I heard, first hand as a child and young adult, some of my father’s experiences with racism
from officers, and from a military system that perpetuated unfairness in peace and in war. Nevertheless, my father loved the military life and
stayed in until he was forced to retire. For him, the good outweighed the bad. I have since met members of my Kenyan family who also served in
the US military. This was my first time realizing that immigrants, especially African immigrants, serve, support and fight for this country too.
Really, no one can say we truly honor veterans and veterans’ families with the deportation of veterans who are legal permanent residents and
their families, particularly the Gold Star families — families of military personnel killed in action. There is no official count on how many Spanish-
speaking veterans or their relatives are deported; actually forced to leave the US. It seems fair to me that if you fight for this country, you have
automatically earned the right to live in this country. Also if your family member is killed in action, that person has earned the right for their family
members to live in the United States as well.
Right now, I have a smart, talented younger cousin who is enlisted in the Navy. He just left Korea and I was told he was relieved because the
people there were anti-American and didn’t want them there. For those of us who are civilians, we can’t know the difficulties of military service.
We see those who return with Post Traumatic Shock Disorder, those who become homeless and those men and women who struggle to
reintegrate back into civilian life. Celebrating and honoring living veterans on Veteran’s Day and every day, is acknowledging and thanking our
own family members, as well as all military personnel, for loving our country, even when our country is not returning that same degree of love.
Veteran’s Day honors living U.S. veterans, all those who have served in the military.
Some of us celebrated Veteran’s Day 2017 in ways small and large. While sharing poetry
last week with seniors, I walked into community rooms decorated beautifully in red, white
and blue to honor the men and women who served in the Armed Forces. At Burr Oaks,
they also had a breathtaking sculptured “screaming eagle” as a centerpiece. The man who
decorated didn’t say if he was in the famous 101st Airborne Division of the Army (who took
on the insignia of the screaming eagle), but that sculpture was riveting.
One could tell immediately that these were people who honored and celebrated veterans.
Others of us can be indifferent to Veteran’s Day, depending on our experiences. Certainly
the country is still reeling from the attack in the Texas church by the killer who was
dishonorably discharged from the Air Force for domestic abuse, but who was still able to
purchase guns that took innocent lives. If you are younger, the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq have not made the societal impact that the Vietnam War or earlier wars had on every
aspect of day to day life. The media coverage of Afghanistan and Iraq has not been with the