Saturday, April 05, 2008

The SPAM War

I spent this morning doing Spring cleaning. Not around the house, but at the little cemetery wherein are interred the last several generations of my wife's ancestors. Global Warming delayed the start of Spring until today.

I've always been fascinated with cemeteries. From the one in Alvin, Wisconsin where I hope to spend my underground years to the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston, I especially like looking at the headstones, noting the vital statistics and especially the epitaphs of earlier generations.

At the cemetery today were a number of veterans of the Civil War, and even a Revolutionary War veteran or two. Many of the stones were illegible now, if they'd ever carried an inscription. Note to self: brass plaque.

After looking at all the markers for my wife's kin folk, we raked leaves, picked up litter, and gathered tree limbs that had fallen over the winter, all of which we put into piles to be burned.

While raking the leaves I noted a headstone with the curious caption:

PVT A Jones

It took me a moment to realize that this had nothing to do with unsolicited bulk email, but rather that Private A. Jones had served in the Spanish-American War.

It occurred to me that some wars in our history have been more popular than others. Some of have been a threat to our existence as a nation, such as the Revolution, 1812, the Civil War, and WWII. But in every war there have been brave men and women putting country before self,

And while I agree with John McCain that there is nothing glorious about war, there is something glorious about warriors.

But the thought that followed unbidden after I realized that some wars were more popular than others was this: those who served in the unpopular wars -- such as Viet Nam and Iraq -- deserve honor more, if such be possible, than those who did so in popular ones. Those who served in popular wars often returned home to ticker-tape parades and a free meal for the sight of their uniform on the street. Not so for those fighting communists in Southeast Asian jungles or terrorists in a Southwest Asian desert.

And so to all of those who served in Viet Nam, and to the troops now serving in Iraq, I can say only thank you. May you know honor in peace as well.

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