Many of America’s veterans appear to have embraced a new attitude in stark contrast from the normative stance held in previous generations. In that not so distant past, it was common for our armed forces personnel to live with conditions that included segregated units for Blacks, also denied equal opportunities to advance due to the color of their skin and policies that belittled and isolated women, similarly limiting the roads they could take in order to move up the ranks.
But during the last several days while spending time with veterans who live in the greater Washington area, we have seen something that deserves recognition. While veterans may be different due to race, gender, branch of service or age, they exude an uncanny, undeniably strong bond that’s hard to ignore whenever two or more occupy the same space.
If we didn’t know any better, we’d almost want to describe the way they interact with and treat one another the way Dr. King described humanity after allowing for God’s radical transformation: the Beloved Community.
As America and many nations in Europe paused recently to honor the millions of soldiers who died during World War I, veterans of today held their comrades closely, silently remembering their own experiences. They reached out to their brothers and sisters still fighting pain, fatigue, loneliness, disillusionment — even those “demons” that have haunted them since facing terror in foreign lands — sometimes even on the battlefield. They pulled their fellow veterans closer without concern for the “isms” that humanity routinely allows to needlessly separate one from another, keeping the human race at odds.
Our vets have sacrificed more than we’ll ever know, contending with forces and conditions that we may never understand that derailed their emotion and physical well-being. And while they have returned to their native land, many are homeless. Others are hopeless. Such conditions are unacceptable.
Veterans Day 2018 was a great time of celebration in America. But now the parties are over. Still, don’t our vets deserve our thanks and support 365 days a year? Of course they do. So, what are we waiting for?