— By LARRY M. JONES
Tomorrow we again set aside a day to honor those men and women who have served in the military.
As part of this annual holiday observation, about a week ago my grandson, Reid Sullivan, called me and asked if he could “interview” me about my time in the Navy. As it turned out, he was working on a Veterans Day project for his Texas History teacher, Coach Williams, at Shirley Hall Middle School. Additionally, my daughter, Lori, later told me that my other grandson, Ryan Sullivan, was excited about honoring veterans at school with a parade in the halls, and desserts and drinks for the veterans and their families afterwards. This event is being directed by Ms. Janet Scoggins to increase students’ awareness and appreciation for service by our military veterans at Bill Wright Elementary.
In recent years since the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, I have been witness to a much greater outpouring of appreciation and recognition for the contributions of our military veterans.
This is quite refreshing compared to the Vietnam era when American patriotism and the morale of our service members probably reached absolute rock bottom. Prolonged fighting without well-defined objectives, ordered by inept bureaucrats and politicians, severely polarized our society resulting in riots, protests, and rampant draft-dodging. An estimated 30,000 fled to Canada alone in order to avoid military service. On his first day in office after his inauguration, the idiot president from Georgia pardoned the entire despicable lot.
I have never denied that if given an honorable choice, I would have continued my academic studies and would have chosen a quite different journey through life. Although a reluctant “citizen soldier,” I would not trade this time I spent with what I believe to be some of the finest young men and women America had to offer. I was initially shocked by the credentials and patriotic mindset of my fellow service members, several of whom would never return home. It was an honor to have been included in this august group – American military service members.
After receiving my wings following flight training, I was sent back to NAS Dallas for a month of recruiting duty. It was “grueling duty” setting up a recruiting table in student unions wearing our dress blues while watching the young coeds all day – everywhere except UT Austin where students would protest and spit on recruiters.
With returning Vietnam veterans vilified and shunned, it is refreshing to see the support for our latest generations of returning warriors. It is particularly rewarding to see patriotic values and recognition of veteran’s service instilled in our younger children by our school teachers and administrators.
Equally moving is the support offered these days by many local businesses. A more complete list of these businesses honoring veterans for their service can be found online, but some of the more notable ones are Golden Corral, Applebees, Denny’s and Olive Garden restaurants, which offer entire meals free on Veterans Day. Many others offer discounts or free entrees. Two big-box stores, Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers, offer year-round military discounts to veterans.
Having endured the nation’s political turmoil of the 1970s, it is gratifying today to see recognition and appreciation for the service and the sacrifices made by America’s veterans. Unlike current White House occupants, I can be proud of America.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.