November 11 is the official day to remember veterans around the world. Here in the US, today is the federal observance of the day.
My blog posts are generally light and snarky. Today not so.
In our modern society, veterans are remembered and revered. Thank you. But, many of you may be surprised to learn in the past veterans were not highly thought of, respected, or helped.
After World War 1 the U.S. Congress voted to give a bonus to veterans. $1.25 for each day served overseas, $1.00 for each day served in the States. The catch was that payment would not be made until 1945. What?
By 1932 the world was full on in the depression. More than 15,000 Veterans went to Washington DC to demand their money. Money that meant survival to them. Veterans, their wives and children camped in and around the city. They said they would stay until they received their money. The House voted to pay the money. The Senate voted no. When the veterans refused to leave the Attorney General ordered Washington police to clear them and their families from government property. Shots were fired. Two veterans were killed. President Hoover ordered the army to clear them out with infantry, cavalry, and tanks with Douglas MacArthur in command. This was against men who had served honorably, were destitute and only wanted money due them. The cavalry under George Patton’s command charged the veterans. Soldiers with fixed bayonets went into an unarmed crowd tossing tear gas. MacArthur ignored the President’s command to stop. He routed 10,000 people and burned the camp. Two children died and there were hundreds of casualties. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the military liaison to the Washington police.
Today, thanks to improvised explosive devices, our men and women in uniform sustain horrible wounds. Traumatic brain injuries that take years to fight back from. Burns that scar the body. Lost limbs that are replaced with carbon fiber apparatus allowing the injured to hold their children, walk, run, dance and compete in sports. Their family and community support them.
In WWI and WWII we did not have many veterans come home with those injuries because few survived them. They had no body armor. No quick helo medivacs to a field hospital that rivals any trauma center. Many of those vets that did make it home, and it breaks my heart to write this, were shunned. Woman crossed the street with their children to avoid these less than perfect veterans scared from burns and with missing arms and legs. The worst part was our veterans had no outlets to talk about it. What is now called PTSD took a huge toll on this group.
Korean Vets were largely ignored and forgotten about. I never heard stories from this group. How I learned about them comes from an unlikely source. A Catholic priest who lived in Korea during the war. He told stories of the sacrifice allied soldiers made to help people. The horrible cold.
Vietnam veterans coming home suffered at the hands of US citizens. Hard to believe. Veteran’s homes were vandalized. On the west coast, groups trolled the airports for men in uniform coming in from the pacific rim. They took it upon themselves to spit on our men in uniform, say horrible things and throw fecal matter on them. No one. Not one person in authority stepped in to help them. It took two men being badly beaten by their fellow citizens before the powers that be in the military allowed men returning from duty in the east to travel in civilian clothes.
I often wonder what those creeps who did that to our veterans think now of their behavior.
When our military forces went into Bagdad, one of my sons was with the first Marines who entered the city. My husband was watching the 24 hour news feeds from imbedded journalists. He turned to me and said, “When these kids get home they damn well better treat than better than they did us.” He meant veterans from other wars.
I wish he could see that they are being treated with honor and respect. Sadly, he died a few days after saying that. Making people aware of our unsung heroes is one of the things I do to honor my husband.
I’m asking you to remember not only those that wear the uniform today but those heroes and heroines who reside in a garden of stones with only their names and the dates they died engraved in marble as a reminder to the rest of us. Remember the heroes and heroines who wore the uniform many years ago. You know, the ones who taught us to ride a bike, did their best to set us on the right path, and sacrificed so we could have a good life. If you have someone like that in your life please call them and tell them you are grateful for what they did for your country and you. Tell them I said thank you also.
Today I’m also at Just Romantic Suspense talking about our heroes. Come over and leave me the name, rank, branch of service of your hero and I’ll donate a dollar to Wounded Warriors Project for each unique name posted.
To learn more about Rita and her books about strong military heroines visit her web home http://ritahenuber.com