You’ve read this before. You’ve seen it displayed in Facebook memes. It’s been shared often enough that it seems by now to be old hat – kind of like those old uniforms all modern veterans think so quaint and plain . . .
“A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount up to and including their life.”
It is unfortunate that war can be exotic and interesting in its ugliness. Citizens stand along the curb during parades, applauding crippled and maimed vets and elevating their plights and life challenges to a heroic status they themselves are often embarrassed to accept.
Veterans deserve that honor.
All of them.
This is a note showing appreciation for several generations of American men and women who wrote the blank check made payable to the USA who seldom if ever are recognized for their service. Yet if they had let down their guard even once during their enlistments, things in our nation would look and feel much different now.
They are the Cold Warriors who quietly, efficiently served America during the years following World War 2 until the Berlin Wall was removed in 1991.
Some of those postings were nice; most were not. America’s Cold Warriors served in isolated, remote places all over the world; though they requested preferred stations, they got wherever their career field was needed most. They left wives and children behind, boarded a plane, and went wherever they were told to go.
Tin City . . . Kotzebue . . . Keflavik . . . Cape Romanzof . . . Thule . . . Tatalina . . . Cold Bay . . . Havre . . . Reykyavik . . . Shemya . . . Fortuna . . . and hundreds of icy, wind-ravaged spots around our continental borders. Those lonely outposts were leftovers, mostly from WW2-era materials and buildings. Because of their harsh environments, they were cobbled together, interconnected, and upgraded only as necessary to continue their mission.
Many of those places no longer exist. Cold Warriors served during what was technically called ‘peacetime’, even though wars like Vietnam raged all around them. Therefore, they received little or no recognition and any skill upgrades were usually ignored and paperwork may or may not have been forwarded. Rank was excruciatingly slow.
I could go on. Generations of these quiet professionals lived and died with no fanfare other than a small flag on their gravesite during weekends like this one. Therefore, I’m offering for each of them something no one ever thought to give any of us. Medals of America now offer both medals and ribbons, and certificates are available.
Fellow Cold Warriors, now dead? I salute your service and your memory, for I know firsthand what your service was like, and how good you all were at your specialties. I’m glad I knew you, and had the privilege of serving during a war that stretched on for roughly 50 years of American history.
Rest well. Those of us still able wear these proudly in your honor.
With respect and sacred remembrance,
Sgt. D. Boone, USAF – 1972 – 1976
© D. Dean Boone, 23 May 2020