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Column: Remembering those who served, combat or otherwise

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By Jacobson Jacobson

We recently observed Veterans Day, and like the rest of you, I think of it as a day where we should do a little more than have a few sales and, my favorite part, free meals for veterans. We should just take a few minutes and think about the men and women who have served in our country’s armed forces. 

Unlike Memorial Day, where we give thanks to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country, today we should be giving our thoughts to everyone who ever wore the uniform of the United States of America. And, naturally we first think of those men who have served in combat. 

In our minds we picture the men landing on the beaches of Normandy. We also picture the marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Even further back, George Washington’s men at Valley Forge and Union and Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg. 

There are men who are veterans of the forgotten battles of Korea and Vietnam. We have forgotten them, but they haven’t.

Today, men and women are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan – veterans. 

Like so many of you, those are the men and women I think of as veterans. I think of, and pay homage to, the men and women who were shot at. And, sometimes I even forget that I myself am a veteran, as I never once saw enemy fire in my three years in the U.S. Army.

Just last Veterans’ Day, I was speaking to a fellow who had been wounded in Vietnam and was a member of the Purple Heart Society. He thanked me for serving, and I said, “I just sat at a desk. You did the real thing. You were wounded.”

His response really touched me. Here was a man who came close to dying for our country, and yet he thanked me. And, he said, “Hey. You served in the army. Not in Canada.”

He was right. I did serve. I was not the only man in uniform between 1962 and 1965 who never saw combat. I was not the only solder who sat behind a desk for 3 years where the only horror I had to face was the KP list. While others fought in the mud of Vietnam, those of us sitting in a comfortable barrack outside of Paris complained constantly that we were getting up too early to stand for revile. 

I am asking for all of you reading this to simply keep in mind that not every veteran is a combat veteran. But, we did serve our country. No one will put up a statue to us, or put our names on any list of heroes. We held our position, in spite of sergeants and officers who drove us crazy. We went to the rifle range and shot at stationary targets. We marched and we drilled and we typed.

The men who served with rifles and grenades received their supplies, movies and hopefully occasional entertainment from us. We provided bedding, food and equipment to those who needed it. 

Men like me were the ones who typed up the forms for the other fellows to fill their needs for equipment or a pass. We were there to lend them a few dollars and to borrow a few dollars. 

And, between the movies and comic books, we tried to never let any other soldier down. It was not combat, but it was our duty nonetheless. I served in the army, not Canada. 

If you asked any man in my unit in France, “How much longer til your discharge?” He could have told you to the exact day. Now, when someone asks, “Who here is a veteran?” We leap up and say, proudly, “I am!”

To those of you who, like me, wore our country’s uniform, but you wore it in combat – whether you were hit or missed – I am proud that I shared the honor of wearing that uniform with you. And, to all of you a salute and a thank you.

 

Al Jacobson is a Commerce City homeowner. He writes children’s stories.