Old Soldiers..

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30-Sep-14
You know.. I’m in here as the son of a cold warrior. My dad was an 18E and served from 1960-81 with three tours in Vietnam. I’ve been in the Army for nearly 10 years with a 15 month tour and a 12 month tour in Iraq.  I watch this video and think on the twilight of the greatest generation. We all remember as this time came upon the WWI generation, with the flurry of news stories and renewed public interest as the last of them slipped into history. The almost cold cycle seems to repeat itself with the WWII generation. This day will come for veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam, and so on. One day it will be my generation’s time to stand in the twilight. This thought, for unknown reasons, rips my heart out. Not for the vets of my war, but for all veterans.

So many humans live their lives in quiet humble mediocrity whereas those who have served and heeded their nation’s call, be it by draft or enlistment, have ‘grabbed history’s torch’ and lived life in a blinding brilliance, even if only for a little while. To ponder such bold examples of humanity quietly passing into the night fills my heart with a formless agony. As each generation leaves us, so much is lost. Modern society no longer values these things much to our own tragedy. I am reminded of Pvt. Harry Patch. Harry Patch, aka the last Fighting Tommy, at the time of his death, aged 111 years, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day, was the last surviving infantryman of the British Empire’s Army from The Great War. He reflected on the absurdity that in a war where millions came to fight and millions came to die that he would be the last. In one of the final interviews he gave before his passing he remarked on how those we leave behind, lost in war, remain forever young while those who remain carry own and wilt with time’s touch. He shared four lines from a poem called For the Fallen:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

I fear the pain in my heart and yearning for the brothers I’ve lost in Iraq and Afghanistan has only grown worse as the years separating us have increased. Still though, we shall remember. Perhaps the source of my agony when pondering a generation of veteran’s twilight is, “Who will remember them when we are gone?

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