We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!"
from Tommy, by Rudyard Kipling
I grew up surrounded by veterans, one grandfather, father, uncle and seemingly everyone else's fathers from my father's friends and cousins. Everyone was a veteran, and none of them considered themselves heroes - they just considered themselves 'home'. One should remember that. It should have been an indicator to my generation. My generation, the BOOMERS, had lots of veterans, fewer draftees that didn't volunteer than the media would say, and many of us would stand watch long after the current conflict waiting on another - professional servicemen and women. That last was not in the design of America, the military was to get big and tough and take care of real threats - the Navy watched the waters, the Marines landed and made large statements of policy, and the Army only became imperial after the Spanish American War, based on colonial conquest (we have to control them to civilize them). Have you heard that reasoning from NeoCons lately?
Modern politics and modern warfare changed the military, and its missions. Didn't change the veterans, nor how the military is treated. I expect many more foreigners in our uniformed services, many, it is a historic fact of all empires, and declining empires in denial of their fading famousness... their own don't serve much. Once in Rome and Greece, every free man knew how to fight and was trained as a unit in the national defense... when empire strikes the free men just frolic and hire the heathens, check on David's rise as a military commander while King Saul sought his death... veterans are a good thing, men willing to serve unto death to protect their loves at home, and they come back to make a better world. There are a lot, now in Britain. Germany and America, non-veterans in places of power, centers of commerce, in the legal system.... only paying lip service to the proud tradition of national service. Remembering comments about being an elected official was just like serving in the military. Nope, it is not, and I am not going to tell anyone that service to the nation automatically means one would make a fine politician or statesman.
I would only say remember their service, pray for their continued success in life, and be thankful of all those that have taken on that thankless job when others wouldn't or couldn't. But for sure don't allow Kipling to write another poem about how one treats the veterans, once praised and sung about like heroes. The Last of the Light Brigade.