Sunday, November 14, 2004


I have never been one to celebrate military service and trumpet that I am a veteran. I served in the Army and left with a wish that the Defense Department bury my records at the St. Louis, MO depot where such files are stored. (They may have too because years ago that depot had a major fire and a million or so records were lost.)

However, I am proud of my nephew serving in Iraq, in spite of my cynical attitude. He claims he isn't busy and he could be doing more, but he also notes that mortar rounds and rockets have been dropping about 200 meters from his position. That he doesn't seem too worried speaks of professionalism born of training. The Armed Services don't have to worry about their PR, as far as I am concerned. They got a black eye at Abu Ghraib earlier this year when untrained MPs tortured prisoners, but for the most part, troops are doing a difficult job well.

Back when I was in the military -- so long ago that Santa Claus had black hair -- there was little discipline and less success. We had potheads lighting up in front of NCOs and no one said a word. The reputation of the service was at rock bottom, and it wasn't for another 10 years that people started to look up to the services again.

Reputation counts in military services as it does anywhere else. The pride my nephew shows, even with criticisms about the stupidity of some situations, comes through clearly. I don't know whether he will stay in the service, but if the rest of the men and women about him are as good as he is, this country doesn't have a problem.


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