Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day 2012

Veterans Day is always a day of reflection for me.

Note that I’m not a particularly reflective kind of guy and I don’t spend a hell of a lot of time dwelling on the past.

For me, as a veteran, every day is a day to remember those I served with, those who trained me and led me, and those I trained and led myself.  Those men and women – the good and the bad, the faithful and the faithless, the leaders and the followers, those who came before me and those who followed after, those that still live and serve and fight, those who like me who have hung up their swords, and always, always, those who have given the last full measure – I remember them, each and every one, every day. 

I don’t dwell on it, but they are always with me.

They are the people who made me what I am.

And on this day, I raise a glass to them.  Here’s to you, you magnificent bastards, one and all.  Here’s to us and all we shared.


If you’re an American, you owe your freedom to those who risked all in your name.

You don’t need to kiss our asses, you’re not required to shed tears, you don’t need to hunt down a veteran and prostrate yourself.

This day is not a wake. It’s a celebration.

In our country, in a free society, the warrior is no more revered than any other citizen – and that’s a good thing.

But do take a moment on this day to remember us, if only briefly. 

Raise a glass and remember those who served their country in peace and in war, those who came when called and those who came of their own free will to stand between home and war’s desolation. There is always more you could do, of course, but that is your choice. Yours and yours alone.

And then, go on about your lives. Live, be free, revel in it – because that, ultimately, is why they do what they do.


To all of my brothers and sisters in arms, those of you who have stood the watch, those of you who walked point into the unknown, and those of you who are even now out there in the dark and dangerous corners of the world, my message to you remains ever the same:

Respect is earned, each and every day, by every word, by every action. It can’t be bought, it can’t be bargained for. It can be lost with a single deed, a single careless gesture, a single failure to act. Men and women will lay down their lives at your command, but they won’t do it for freedom or democracy or because you’re bigger or tougher or the meanest son of bitch who ever lived or because you’re smarter or better educated or because they love you or because they hate you, they do it because they respect you. Respect is why Americans remember you today – or not.

Respect is the only authority you have, guard it well.

Be proud of who you are and the uniform you wear.

You are more than a simple Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, or Guardsman, you are the very symbol of this nation and its people – for good or bad – and the first bulwark against the night.  When you put on that uniform, you are the United States of America, you represent us all. Never forget that, not for one single moment.

Hold your head high, hold your honor dear, be always true to your oath. 

Stand steadfast by your duty even when there is no one to see.

Follow those who lead and lead those who will follow.

Leave no one behind.

And remember the fallen. Always.


To all of you who have worn the uniform, thank you for your service and your sacrifice on this day, and every other.

//Jim Wright, Chief Warrant Officer, United States Navy (Retired).


  1. And a hardy salute to you also Chief "SALUTE!"

    DK-3 Dave

  2. Thanks Jim.


  3. to all that have served or serve

    Thank You

  4. Thank you, Chief, for all you have done and continue to do out of respect for us. And thank you for that respect, it is returned full measure.

  5. Thank you...
    for your service...
    ... and this blog.

  6. Thank you, Jim.

    Today's the day I remember Bill, and Floyd, and Jon, and for a few brief hours we're a crew again.

  7. Thank you Jim.

    Tom King
    USAF Retired

  8. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredNovember 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Amen, and thank you, sir.

  9. We remember and are grateful.


  10. 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.

    Thank you, Sir.

    Sergeant, REME (retired)

  11. My son is on his way to Afghanistan right now, and today is my birthday.

    Thanks so much for this.

    1. Happy Birthday, Darla-Jean -- today's my birthday too, and I've been thinking about my dad...a Korean-war fighter pilot.

      All the best to you and your son. May he return to you safe and well.

    2. Darla-Jean, a whole lot of people are holding you and your son close in our hearts today that he gets back home safely to celebrate your next birthday with you.

      (((Big, gentle hugs to you from Texas.)))

  12. You GO to war because you're sent. You FIGHT for the brothers and sisters beside you. And you remember them forever.

    Thanks, Jim.

    Miss you, Dad.

  13. My father was discharged on this day in 1945, after serving as a radioman in the Army in China. Somewhere along the way his overcoat had gone missing, so he was issued a replacement that day. So I have a brand-new 67-year-old woolen Army overcoat in the attic!

    And let me add my thanks to you for your service, Jim, along with all these other folks.

    I never served myself, and one of the things I appreciate about your blog is the expertise on matters military that you bring to it.



  14. High Flight

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
    I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

    Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
    I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

    — John Gillespie Magee, Jr

    1. "ETERNAL FATHER, STRONG TO SAVE" William Whiting, 1860

      Eternal Father, strong to save,
      Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
      Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
      Its own appointed limits keep;
      Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
      For those in peril on the sea!

      O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
      And hushed their raging at Thy Word,
      Who walked on the foaming deep,
      And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
      Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
      For those in peril on the sea!

      Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
      Upon the chaos dark and rude,
      And bid its angry tumult cease,
      And give, for wild confusion, peace;
      Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
      For those in peril on the sea!

      O Trinity of love and power!
      Our family shield in danger’s hour;
      From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
      Protect us wheresoever we go;
      Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
      Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.


      And adopted for all aviators:

      "LORD, GUARD AND GUIDE THE MEN WHO FLY" Mary C.D. Hamilton, 1916

      Lord, guide and guide the men who fly
      Through the great spaces of the sky;
      Be with them traversing the air
      In darkening storms or sunshine fair.

      Thou who dost keep with tender might
      The balanced birds in all their flight,
      Thou of the tempered winds, be near,
      That, having Thee, they know no fear.

      Control their minds with instinct fit
      What time, adventuring, they quit
      The firm security of land;
      Grant steadfast eye and skillful hand.

      Aloft in solitudes of space,
      Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
      O God, protect the men who fly
      Through lonely ways beneath the sky.

      Semper Fidelis Jim, and all who serve - Tommy D

    2. "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
      And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;"

      Fly high, Dad. I love you and miss you.

      Thanks Mr W and all those who served.


  15. My salute Chief!

    (shared this blog on my timeline, a fitting celebration worthy to pass along)

  16. To my father, uncles, great uncles and all those who served and serve-

    My deepest and most profound thanks for your devotion to duty and to
    the uniforms worn.


  17. You would have my respect for this blog, Jim, even if you didn't have it for your service. My thanks to you, and to the others who've served who comment here.

  18. More fitting to Memorial Day perhaps, but my father (Captain, US Army, Vietnam 1966-67 and 1971-72) likes this one:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields

    1. My absolute favorite.
      Thank you for posting it.

      And thank you, Jim, for reminding us so eloquently....

  19. My sincere thanks go to those who served and those who continue to serve, you have made all of us proud and kept us free.

    I miss you every day, Dad.

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  21. Thank you Chief,
    Raising a glass to those gone, and those still with us,
    P G Hockley CSM 3rd Battalion Parachute Rgt. Retired

  22. I have a great deal more respect for the military, both past and present, because of you and what you do, Jim. I am a liberal, born and raised. I was born to be a Vietnam draft deferment. Literally. The fact of my existence kept my father out of the war. My parents were Berkeley hippies. I live in San Francisco. I don't know anyone in the military now, and the only person I ever did know was kicked out of the Navy for being gay and smoking pot. People like me just don't see the military, and when we do the light is often unflattering.

    By being thoughtful and erudite and outspoken and a just plain SMART bastard, you have made me discard a lot of prejudices. Thank you for that. You are a credit to your uniform.

    1. Greg ETC(SW) USN RetiredNovember 12, 2012 at 7:36 AM

      From what you describe, it sounds like you grew up with a certain stereotype of the military. From my own experience, I've found that it's really very difficult to apply that to today's military. There's truly a widely diverse spectrum of those who put on the uniform and serve. There are some bad apples, who always seem to garner a disproportionate amount of attention, but they're really the minority. I think you'll find that there are a lot of "like thinking" folks who've found Jim's blog.

  23. "On Remembrance Day, remember that it is the soldier's job to do their duty. It is the citizen's job to make sure that when our government puts our soldiers in harm's way, it is always for a good reason. Our soldiers have always done their job. They have always done their duty. We have not."

  24. When You Go Home,
    Tell Them Of Us And Say,
    For Your Tomorrow,
    We Gave Our Today.

    Flt Lt. RAF, Retd.

  25. Thank you for your service, Jim. And my deepest thanks for this blog. It helps this ex-"flower child" basically pacifist old woman see into a place I never would have otherwise seen and brings a hint of understanding of a life I have never known directly or secondarily.

    Not to mention how much I enjoy your writing! Off to find a glass to raise!

  26. My utmost respect and thanks to you and all veterans this day. I lift my glass to all of you. Your bravery brings tears to my eyes and makes me proud to be an American.

  27. Jim, I would very much like to hear your take on Petraeus / Benghazi, if there is any connection. The Repugs are all OVER it. I'm not interested in exploring Petraeus' personal life, only to know if you think it is possible there is a cover-up, a connection between the timing of this and Benghazi. I don't ever buy into anything Repugs say when it's trying to discredit the current administration, but I'm confused about the timing of this and whether or not you think something really is going to come out to embarrass the dems. I'm as liberal as they get, but I also like to be informed. Thanks for your great blogs!!

    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredNovember 12, 2012 at 7:43 AM

      Jim wrote a piece shortly after the Benghazi story broke. Maybe we'll see more once we actually know more, despite the Faux meltdown on the "scandal worse than Watergate" (sigh). Here's the earlier post. http://www.stonekettle.com/2012/09/war-by-other-means.html?m=0

    2. Thanks Greg. I don't know how I missed this.

  28. Thank you to the men and women who have served or are in harms way
    and for our homeless Vets on the streets,
    my heart breaks and this song runs through my mind today...

    Brother Can You Spare a Dime
    Once I built a railroad, I made it run
    I made it run against time
    Once I built a railroad, and now it's done
    Buddy, can you spare a dime?

    Once I built a tower way up to the sun
    Of bricks and morter and lime
    Once I built a tower, and now it's done
    Buddy can you spare a dime?

    Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell
    Full of that Yankee-Doodlee-Dum
    A half-a-million boots went sloggin' through hell
    And I was the kid with the drum

    Say don't you remember, you called me Al
    It was Al all the time
    Say don't you remember, I was your pal
    Buddy, can you spare a dime?

    Once I built a railroad, I made it run
    I made it run against time
    Once I built a railroad, and now it's done
    Buddy, can you spare a dime?

  29. Well said Chief. Bravo Zulu.
    Let us Remember them
    The Heroes and Cowards alike
    Those who chose through Birth
    Those who chose through love of Country
    and those who chose through circumstance
    Let us remember those who died
    The Soldier's death

    There in Trenches cold and grey
    where pain and fear wrenched the heart
    Death fed hunger
    In the noise and light of morning
    Blood ran free.......
    as the enemy came

    And simply think of those
    who waited on the order and heard
    the whistle of death
    in the sky

    Think of all who ran
    On the order of Empire
    To meet bullet, barbed wire
    and the hand of eternity

    Some died the death of freedom
    Some the death of empire
    and some died.....
    not understanding why

    Those now lost to history
    Statistics on a page
    Those whose souls now search
    The Battlefields for a Sign

    So let us remember them
    The Heroes and Cowards alike
    Remembered in Stone and scroll
    and those poor souls who
    are not remembered at all

  30. Thanks for that, Jim. And for reminding us why, when men like Alan West and Gen. Petraeus forget this, it makes the rest of us lookbad, and we have to pick up their slack.

    AO3, USS Forrestal, CV-59
    Spec, USAR, 351st MP co.

  31. 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.

    Thanks Jim.

  32. A fine and fitting tribute to all that have, and all that have yet to serve. Jim, thank you for your service to our collective freedom. The freedom to disagree, the freedom to worship as one sees fit, the freedom to love whom we choose and yes, to build a life with those we choose regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of socioeconomic status. Long may the memories of those who payed the ultimate sacrifice live in our hearts, our actions and our prayers... Thank you!

  33. As one who medically cannot serve (The military prefers their recruits without pre-scrambled brains, it seems), I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who can, do, and perform their service with honor and integrity.

    Thank you for your dedication and bravery.

  34. I stood in reflection at Kent State University Sunday:

    World War II, over 400,000 deaths - Miami, FL or Oakland, CA.
    The Greatest Generation is almost gone.

    Korea, over 36,000 deaths - Dover, DE or Longview, WA.
    The Forgotten War.

    Vietnam, over 58,000 deaths - Cheyenne, WY or Utica, NY.
    Names on a black wall in Washington, DC; names on a beige wall in Kent, OH.

    Iraq, over 4400 and counting.

    Afghanistan, over 2000 and counting.

    I am humbled.

  35. Amen, brother, and thank you.

    Paul Cooper (former QM3/SS)

  36. Thank you, my father, my brothers, my sister, my uncles, my cousins, my nieces, my nephews and soon, my son, who will be enlisting in the Marines after graduation this coming June. I sleep well under the protection you all provide, or have provided.

  37. Jim,
    Thank you, not only for your past service, but for continuing to serve through your blog writing. Thank you for reminding us that service comes in many forms, as does patriotism. It does not all get recognized with a shiny medal, but today we should all remember and honor. Thanks to everyone who has served or is still doing so. regards,
    Jerry A. (former USNR)

  38. So... ummm... I take it by your statement that Veterans Day is SUPPOSED to be a celebration... that the statement "Thank you for your service. Happy Veterans Day" would be a welcome one?

  39. I spent the morning reflecting on the people I knew in the service, as well as those unknown who went before me and have now come after me.

    ...and then we hosted a get-together with close friends and neighbors (I avoided any sea stories...I have all the rest of the year to tell those).

    It was nice. Can't think of a better way to spend the day.

    To all who posted here, Happy Veteran's Day, and Thank You for your well wishes. To Jim and all the other Vets, BZ (and keep it up).

    Steve B.
    OSC, USCG (ret.)

  40. I have carried with pride the words of one of my commanding officers many years ago:
    "I want you by my side, Master Chief, because I respect your counsel."

  41. Fair Winds and Trailing Seas, Chief.

  42. "Leave No One Behind!" that means NO ONE either here or in Country. In suburbia or in Congress.

    We are in this together people,

  43. BZ, Warrant.

    TH, CDR MC USN- separated.


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