A Salute to the Un-Sung Veterans

But not these:

I don’t expect anyone to like this post. 

Veteran’s Day is one of those days to indulge the self-elevating act of patting ourselves on the back by  public expressions of thanks to military veterans for protecting our freedoms.  A day we mutually endorse a falsehood:  that the endless series of military adventures US presidents have indulged in since the end of WWII contributed to freedoms we enjoy today. 

Any sincere effort to thank those who actually sacrificed serving this country would involve visits to VA Hospitals where those doing the sacrificing are found.  But nobody will see you and praise you for doing it because nobody else will be there, either.  Aside from a few politicians looking for news bites the place will be as empty of thankers as any other day.

We veterans who served in the US services from the end of WWII until now did so for a lot of reasons.  Conscription was one of those reasons until the end of the Vietnam War.  Many of us volunteered, but to suggest we’d have done so if we hadn’t been threatened by conscription is ludicrous.   The Vietnam War would have ended by 1967 or sooner if they’d had to rely on volunteers.

To go further and pretend the vast majority of men and women who’ve served in the all-volunteer military following Vietnam did so for patriotic reasons is equally ludicrous.  Many, many did so because it provided a high paying career, excellent benefits, early retirement on a scale they could never have achieved outside the military. 

True, some tiny percentage risked their lives in the pursuit of the careers they chose which involved being sent into harms way to further political interests of US presidents without Constitutional declarations of war by the US Congress.

I pondered all this in an earlier post, Abdicating Personal Responsibility to Politicians.

So today, this old vet says to you, “Thanks, but no thanks for your thanks.”

Instead, I’m offering thanks to a group of people who have actually done something positive, but who’ve not been thanked in living memory.

You won’t see any parades for these heroes today.  Nobody will be patting them on the back, giving them hugs with self-aggrandizing acknowledgement of the sacrifices they make daily for this country.

You won’t catch them waving flags and posturing, strutting over their health risks constantly encountered for the service they’ve chosen.  It’s their jobs.  They volunteered for it, same as military volunteers chose the jobs they do.  Even though on average their jobs are a lot greater threat to their health and the duration of their lives than those of cops and military servicemen.

The difference is, they can’t retire after 20 years with generous pensions.  They don’t get free health care for life.   And fawning patriots don’t ask them to pretend they’re John Wayne, gulp staring into the distance to voice-moving news bites.  Nobody asks them for orations to give the gathered admirers something to pat themselves on the back about.

They can’t even get anyone to listen when they do say anything that might make their lives easier.

“We literally have tens of thousands of these beach whistles lying in the rip-rap around the lagoons. And tens of thousands more get screened out of the composted biosolids when we dredge the lagoons. Ladies, these aren’t biodegradable and belong in the trashcan, not the toilet. The basics of what should get flushed distills down to this: if you haven’t eaten it, or used it to wipe off something you’ve eaten, it goes in the trash. That also applies to the device that these applicators are designed to insert. Wrap ’em with a wad of Charmin if you are embarrassed by them, but please, please, please don’t flush ’em.”


But what I respect most about them is they don’t posture or swagger to call attention to themselves, they don’t whine, they don’t beg for acknowledgement or thanks.  And they don’t believe they should be showered with benefits and high salaries for the service they voluntarily perform daily without complaint or thanks.

They’ve done more for this country every day of my life than any military service member I’ve ever heard of.

This old military vet’s hat goes off in salute to the men and women who work in the sewage treatment plants and pump the septic systems of this great nation this Veteran’s Day.

Thank you for your service.

Old Jules


29 responses to “A Salute to the Un-Sung Veterans

  1. You are correct Jules in regards to your first sentence disclaimer, at least in my case. But, I can’t really argue with most of it, with two exceptions. There are many Vets that don’t posture, swagger, call attention to themselves, whine, or beg for anything. Many. Probably the majority. I also appreciate the dedication of our sewage workers, after all, both lines of work require the ability to deal with enormous quantities of crap. I have no confidence however, that the sewer platoon would remain at their post while being fired upon. And I would imagine they do just as much complaining about their lot in life as any soldier. How could they not? I’m glad you’re a Vet Jules, otherwise I’d be pissed at ya 🙂

  2. Hobo Joe: Fact is only a microscopic percentage of the military servicemen who’ve served since WWII ever came within miles of any shooting, anything at all hazardous to their health. They suffered inconvenience. An interruption to the lives they’d have otherwise chosen if they were draftees or volunteered because the draft would have gotten them otherwise. Even in Vietnam only a tiny percentage ever were involved in combat. Tiny percentage, though higher than among the all-volunteer forces.

    I’d guess as many sewer plant workers are military vets as are found in the general population, though it’s not what I’m thanking them for.

    By all means be pissed if you’d be pissed were I not a vet. My being a vet has no bearing on what’s written here. I expect a lot of visitors here to be pissed, many sufficiently to never visit here again. I didn’t write it to win friends. Thanks for your visit. Jules

  3. My hat is off to all the warriors and defenders of our country – both past and present. No matter what their reasons for being there – I salute them all (both men and women alike) for allowing me the privilege to enjoy all the freedoms this country affords – for without them, my life would not be the same.

    So Old Jules – I would like to say THANK YOU and THANK YOU to all those who came before and after you – for without your sacrifices, freedom would not exist.

    “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier…”
    – Samuel Johnson

    • And thank you, guttermutt, for your devotion to the mythology that helps keep these presidential wars going ad infinitum. I appreciate the read and visit. Gracias, Jules

  4. Truth can hurt but it does not lie. This doesn’t bother me but of course it will others. Important thing is there is more reality here than all the false and misplaced “patriotism”.

  5. Nice post for Veterans Day, Jules. Happy Friday? Gracias, Michael.

  6. I go to church with a number of WW II vets who did see combat. When we declared war in Iraq, they wept.

    • Hi momsomniac: The US Congress never declared war on Iraq either time we invaded the country. I can understand why WWII vets would weep to see the US President engaging in another unconstitutional war, undermining the US Constitution by ignoring it. Thanks for coming by. Jules

      • I think they wept for what would be lost, not just what was wrong about it. And you are correct, of course – war was not formally declared; my apologies for the mis-statement.

  7. Very well put! I posted the link to this post on facebook and google +. This needs to be seen! Thank you for writing it, favorable or not, it needed to be said. Thanks and have a great day M|K

  8. I like this post. I also like you’re style. That’s why I left you something on my blog a few minutes ago (before reading this). You might not even want it. Even that’s OK with me 🙂

  9. Thank you, sir! I am a veteran of the pooper pumper wars, myself. It’s a good feeling to recognized for my sacrifice.

  10. In my usual expectation defying tradition, Jules, I’ve got to tell you I love what you’ve posted here……you are far more gentle and kinder than I would be on this subject but I’ll bet Gen. Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC is smiling down on you as he blesses your conclusions and observations.. Evidently you are among the tiny minority who really got the point of Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. My Vet ass may go shoot a politician or twelve today in Remembrance honoring our fallen brothers and sisters and their families since my back is too damn sore today to bury the fuckers chest deep slathered with honey for a fire ant gourmet picnic feast.
    But every time you get rid of one it seems 3 more take their place, Chinese Democracy? Later Bro……

    • Hi Rich. Best you just keep your vet ass home, take care of the dogs and leave the shooting to the cops and other hoodlums. Hope your back gets better soon. Thanks for coming by and offering up your words. Gracias, Jules

  11. I read what you say very carefully.
    Take care Jules.

  12. Great post, Jules. If I can’t be grateful for your military service, I can at least be grateful that you posted what I cannot. You’re my hero.


  13. Pingback: Great Aspirations « Do What's Right

  14. Like it? I love it. Its so well written, explaining just what I too feel and can’t yet put so clearly into words.

    Thanks, Jules


  15. I agree with and I like the post even though I have a soft spot for old vets (WW II)my dad having been one. Another group that I feel this way about are the garbage workers. When I hear the truck go by at an ungodly hour on Wed. morn I say a silent thanks for these unthanked workers….

    • KL Richardson: Good point. But if you spend any time thinking about it the wings are full of people washing dishes, hauling garbage, changing the oil on your car, flipping hamburgers and generally keeping things running without much pay and with no acknowledgement. Gracias Jules

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