Penetration Before Detonation

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Going along the line of my last post about boxes full of my Air Force and AMMO shit that my wife got ahold of, I decided that my last post merely scratched the surface of a few topics that I finally decided to discuss. If you didn’t read We Live So Others May Die then this may seem pretty random and might not make total sense, but then again that can be said for most of the shit I write anyway. I had left out my jacket from the last story, I think I got sidetracked or something. But, the jacket pictured is a big part in ways of expressing and explaining how I’ve changed over the last 15 years since getting out of the Air Force. How so? In many ways one might say I matured, maybe grew up is better, since I was 32 at the time of exiting. The things that were my life and priorities were very different only a week later, no more eating all things dangerous for breakfast and shitting tiffany bullets by dinner, providing the enemy the opportunity to die for his country was no longer printed on my business cards. Overnight my life as I knew it was upside down, it was a disaster and a hard first few weeks, and slowly the stress of that job faded.

But let’s go back first, way back. My dad was a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant before I was born in 68. It wasn’t until my teen years that he began to open up to me about his military career. The thing that used to intrigue me the most about his career was him telling me, in a joking manner, that Uncle Sam used to pay him to blow shit up, and I thought that he had to have had the best job known to man. My mind was made up, I was joining the Air Force and do what he did. However, by the time it was time certain jobs had been retired and new ones created. Let history show that I chose to be a 461. Now, we all have heard that Air Force basic training is relatively easy, right? Right. I won’t lie, it was easy. I think it’s easy because they’re not really training “soldiers” or “badasses” by definition, they’re teaching military service as a way of life, like summer camp but with better weapons, because they know one is in the air force to do things on the more technical side. Blah, blah, blah, it was a breeze. Technical school for the 461 was a crash course in how not to end up dead, full of many technical terms, safety, and how one must absolutely positively respect explosives or they simply put your dog tags in an envelope to mail to your next of kin because typically that’s all one can expect to be remaining. All that being said, it stuck with me always, respect. And sure enough I got out with all ten fingers and toes and everything in the middle. I paid the price tho, I drank the kool-aid, I started believing the propaganda as the everloving truth, I would preach it all like the gospel itself. Later in my career I had my wake up call, and at that point I was no longer able to be detached from the horrors of what I helped create.

I wore this jacket everywhere, I wore it with absolute pride knowing if I did my job properly then without prejudice those weapons would function as designed. I mean think about it, without explosives the Air Force is just the world’s largest airline which was even more lore and propaganda, I had a head full of it, it was pounded in until my sweat glands weeped it all back out, it was like the victory lap after being full circle for hundreds of miles yet never going anywhere. It’s a beautiful plan. And just to think that the general population of the United States of America is opposed to the waterboarding of our enemies but it’s OK to brainwash our sons and daughters in the military because we must make stronger soldiers. Bullshit. They break you down and then build the you they think you should be, fuck the real you, the real you is DOA once you sign the dotted line. My whole career was just a dangerous game, I got to dance with the devil and sleep with his daughters all in the name of democracy and the American way. I know this sounds bitter and sarcastic, I’m not trying to, because I actually really loved being in the Air Force. As my jacket reads, I even advertised our services for free every moment I wasn’t in uniform.

Back to present day, this jacket was neatly folded laying on top of everything else in the box, resting for eternity, or so I thought, until I see it has been resurrected. But the emotion I had was not anger for digging up my skeletons, it was a smile and surprise. As soon as I said I would not be wearing it, simply because I had a growth spurt in my mid 30s, my son volunteers to be its proud new owner. Way wrong fucking answer boy, it will never happen. First of all, it is not appropriate to wear to school, I don’t care if he is in the AFJROTC in high school, I really don’t. Sure, it would be cool for him to show off, but all the perverts would find some way of making it a sexual statement. Just say it to yourself and imagine all the meanings. Of course, very few know it is the calling card and slogan for my favorite weapon of all, the BLU-109. Yes, I had a fantastic favorite, seems weird now, stop making it weird people. Plus, its not his “game” to play with people. I can back my shit up, he cannot. Yes, I can remember wanting to wear my father’s uniforms and so forth so I do get the psychology. But the responsible dad part of me just says no to it altogether.

Damn, of course, this story, this little piece of personal history, has gone in so many directions. Oh well, maybe some of y’all get it, and I cannot help the rest of y’all. This reminds me of so much more, I hope this doesn’t constitute violating the terms I signed when I got out, you know the form, don’t ever talk about your job from this day forward or go to federal prison. I knew I would crack one day, I just never knew when. So, until next time boys and girls, remember to eat it every day!

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We Live So Others May Die!

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There is no doubt that over the years I have collected my fair share of AMMO & IYAAYAS memorabilia. Until recently most of which sat in boxes collecting dust in storage. In a way it was me putting my past life to rest and eventually moving on to a civilian life. However, while thinning out boxes, repacking boxes, and deciding what stays and what goes, my wife and son got ahold of everything while I was working. When I came home much of the stuff was hanging on the wall of the hall leading to the master bedroom. It was both a shock and surprise to see most of it. When I asked why I was told that this stuff needed to be out, needed to be seen, and she thought I would appreciate the fact that they took the time to put allot of it on display. I do appreciate the effort, but if I wanted it out of the boxes then I would of done it a long time ago, but no, it remained boxed, hoping until I was dead at least.

I ate, breathed, and lived the motto “We Live So Others May Die” my entire Air Force career and when I got out, my priorities, opinions, and morality changed considerably. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my fucking job every single day, all day long, but once I got out, day by day it just stopped meaning the same thing to me personally. Trust me, there is no better satisfaction than seeing the munitions you had a hand in building get loaded onto an aircraft and not see them come back because when the pilot pulled the trigger the weapons functioned as designed. That was the beautiful part of my job. I always remained disconnected from the damage, death, and destruction because I was in the “supply chain”. We were never the one pulling the trigger.

One day, in an undisclosed place in the mid 90s, I got to witness the true power of what I helped create and happen. I didn’t care for what I saw. I became ashamed of the organization I belonged to. I made up my mind I didn’t want to be a part of it any longer. When I got out I was happy to see the Air Force in my rear view mirror. At that point everything, pictures, memorabilia, uniforms, paperwork, trinkets, and so forth, went into the boxes. I ask myself why I boxed them up instead of burning it all and my answers were clear, I had many great memories of places I had been, people I have met, and experiences I have had. It’s what we do right? We put our memories in frames, shadow boxes, and actual boxes, as keepsakes and so forth. I have always had trouble talking with people in person about my ” job” in the Air Force because it no longer held any “glory” for me. As an example, way back when I was married to my ex, she finally found out what I actually did for a living. Sure, she knew what I did, but she never put two and two together because I never spoke of my job to her, ever. Sure, I had friends doing the same job who we interacted with regularly, most with wives who were friends with mine, but work was never the topic. Then, one day I received a slap to the face as I got told she didn’t want to be married to a baby killer. Yea, I know.

Years later, many years, my boxes full of my past life resurface, now my current wife and 14 year old son have questions. Questions I don’t really want to answer. My wife on the other hand already knew the answers but felt if my son was asking me questions then I needed to be the one answering. How about……. I don’t know…….. maybe……. fuck this shit I don’t want to discuss anything. My son had but one question. He wanted to know what the motto “We Live So Others May Die” meant to me. I’m not going to lie, there were many minutes of silence on my part, as I watched my son reading that phrase over and over on different things now hanging on the wall. What does it mean, really? The simple answer, in my opinion, is that thru training, schooling, education, and brainwashing, we truly were the facilitators of death and destruction, part of a machine which promotes peace through submission. I took great pride knowing that I did my job exceptionally well. However, the me of today is ashamed in many ways to acknowledge that this, in another time, was my life. I should have just burned it all when I had the chance way back when, but I didn’t, lucky me. We also looked at my uniforms, he was particularly interested in my dress blues, as they were still adorned with ribbons, awards, tours, and accolades. Looking now, I had quite the rack. It’s meaningless now I suppose, only because I wonder what it was all for.

I am very proud to have served my country and have the deepest respect for all of the men and women who serve now, have served, or will one day serve. I know it isn’t easy, not during your service and definitely not afterwards, not everyone has an easy transition. The military changes who we are to be who they want and then turn us out back into society. I explained to my son the reason I visit two different Veteran’s homes and the Veteran’s hospital is because I like talking with veterans who don’t seem to have anyone to talk to. I’m not trying to help them nor solve their problems, I just listen and talk, we share our experiences, we smile knowing that we have friends within one another.

After a very long conversation with my son, about the good, the bad, and even the ugly, he stood up and hugged me, it was a deep and meaningful hug which brought tears to my eyes as he whispered that he loved me into my ear. He explained that he wanted me to know he loved me and will always be proud of his dad. He has been going hard at the AFJROTC all year and hopes to one day follow in my footsteps. As much as I would like to desuade him from this career path, I won’t, I want him to fulfill his dreams, I won’t allow my own experiences to be his burden. Don’t know if that makes sense.

I close this post with a final thought, we are who we are, it is what it is, we live our lives as we see fit, hopefully we find some happiness along the way. To all active duty and veterans, I salute each and every one of y’all!

A Very Open Fucking Letter………….

Fuck-you

Dear Active Duty Military, Retired Military, and Military Veterans Benefits Haters  —

We’ve been having a rough go of it lately, haven’t we?  There you are, a civilian, absofuckinglutely convinced that the average service member in the United States Military is not worth his weight in pay and benefits.  And here I , a United States Air Force disabled veteran, wondering how we got to this fucking point and why you are so fucking uneducated about the value of the the United States military. Let me be the first to tell you, fuck off and fuck you.

I think the problem may be that you are more than a little fucking confused. You’re there, sitting on your civilian sofa in your civilian house in the town of your choice after coming home from your civilian 9-5 job. You are feeling a little annoyed by the crazy awesome salaries that servicemembers and military retirees score because, in comparison, yours aren’t that amazing. So, now your fucking pissed our taxes are paying for us to have this fabulous fucking lifestyle. You are disgusted by our very existence which is supported by the American tax payers

You proclaim our benefits, the things we get in exchange for the willingness to die for America is overly lavish.

Don’t get me wrong, I put my benefits to use regularly, doing crazy shit like buying food and paying fucking bills. But I would live without the benefits just fine, making life happen other ways. If it comes down to bullets or your fucking BMW, I’d go with the bullets any day.

What bothers me about you military hating motherfuckers writing stories, posting stupid shit on social media, and your appearances on television spewing your bullshit is your fucked up tone.

Servicemembers, retirees, veterans, and their families, the tone says, are acting like privileged brats for expecting, accepting and clinging to the benefits which encourage them to stay military or even to join in the first place.

In fact, the tone says, it is a waste of tax payer money to meet military personnel needs or even give nice-to-haves in exchange for keeping them around to call upon at your every whim.

Servicemembers are overpaid, coddled low-skill workers who should not be given compensation for the inconveniences of military life, but who should still be expected to do their jobs while risking their lives for yours.

It’s a tone that says if you had to join the military to make it through life you are, logically, a substandard American worker and you do not warrant compensation in excess or even equal to the civilian market. Civilians are people who have choices and didn’t take the easy out of Uncle Sam. Military are people who are living off the tax payer.

The tone is supported by the flinging of inaccurate statistics to support your claims or, worse, the promotion sof weeping generalities about who servicemembers are and what they deserve.

Bad Statistics and Comparisons

Here’s this gem I read not too terribly long ago, pissed me off then,  pisses me off now.

“Over the past decade, military salaries have grown at a faster rate than those of civilian workers. The average enlisted soldier now earns more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college. Most captains – the third-most-junior rank of officer – will take home more than $90,000 this year.”

I’m going to disregard that ridiculous first sentence that ignores the fact that we also have been paid for deployment after deployment and all the tolls of war. Let’s just focus on the compensation “facts.”

Only one in seven Americans is even in good enough physical shape to join the United States military. That means that to be the “average enlisted soldier”a recruit already had to do something most Americans can’t fucking do, be somewhat fit. A whole other group of Americans is ineligible because they didn’t graduate high school or because they have a criminal record. A recruit also had to be willing to join the military, which puts him in a group with less than one percent (1%) of Americans.

After he joins that soldier then holds a more than full time job, often over 80 hours a week, for which he must continue to meet requirements such as staying fit, drug free, and felony free. He very likely does an intricate task that no average American with less than two years of college could do without months of dedication and training. He probably has also spent more than nine full months multiple times away from his family working around the clock where he put his fucking life on the line and accepted the continuing burdens of war as part of the gig. He’s likely to have held this same job for around five or six years.

Why is it so fucking unreasonable that this soldier make more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college? And how is that a good group of people to compare him to at all?

Military officers are compensated at a higher rate based on education and responsibility, at least in theory. While a captain may make more than $90,000 before taxes in a very high housing allowance area such as D.C., the average captain certainly does not. A little math reveals that a captain with seven years of experience living in San Antonio, Texas with dependents, for example, makes about $76,000 before taxes. But a breakdown of average hours worked during a year in which he does not deploy shows that he earns around $21 an hour.

And no matter how you shake it out, nobody in the military, retired, or a veteran, are making a whole hell of a lot after taxes.

In 2014 the average male graduate just out of college earned about $22 an hour. After graduating college and spending seven years on the job with countless additional months in training, a military captain is making about $21 an hour for putting his life on the line, being willing to live wherever the military sends him and leave his family for months at a time. He also has met all the qualifications of the “average enlisted soldier” that made that person valuable including, again, an interest in joining the military to start with.

As America rolled into sequestration and other budget cuts, DoD leaders decried the high cost of military personnel. After all, they said, supporting current and former military members takes up a third of the DoD budget.  And with the DoD budget as a whole taking up the biggest single slice of the federal budget besides Social Security, something surely must be done.

But what they fucking fail to note is that military personnel costs really aren’t that ridiculous when compared to the normal market. In civilian companies with big air fleets (the closest one can get to a military comparison), personnel costs hover at similar levels.

For the United Parcel Service, for example, personnel costs make up 61 percent of the budget. For FedEx, it’s 43 percent. For Southwest Airlines – generally recognized as among the most cost-efficient air carriers – personnel costs comprise 31 percent of operating revenue (which includes profit, so the percentage of expenditures is higher).

The idea that the Defense Budget is so out of control is also so very fucking misleading, particularly when you look to past trends.

If military pay and benefits are so great, where in the fuck are you?

But here’s the thing that really gets me.

If the pay and benefits for members of the American military are so lavish and such a steal of a deal, where are you, Benefits Hater?

Because that’s the thing that’s so great about the American military. You don’t have to be special or an elitist to hang out with us. You just have to meet the requirements and be willing to run while wearing boots while defending The United States Constitution.

This isn’t some exclusive club. We like all types of people. We’re fucking cool like that.

So perhaps you don’t join because you can’t meet the qualifications that us low-skill, not worthy of benefits folks met.

Or maybe you just love your freedoms and hate danger. Maybe you like picking where you live. Maybe your spouse has a career she doesn’t want to destroy by moving every three years. Maybe you don’t want to risk getting blown up in the street while driving through a far away land.

Those freedoms? We give you those motherfucking freedoms and make damn sure, all day and all night, sure you keep them.

Try remembering that and then see how you feel about the United States military, retired military, veterans, and all the benefits and pay we should live without.

Sincerely,

Steven (aka Scorpion Sting, United States Air Force disabled veteran)

 

When There Is No End In Sight

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I understand that many people on this planet rely heavily on stories they see on social media (I.e., Facebook, Twitter, Google+, ect.) as being actual news and that people choose their “side” on an issue based on the opinions of others. Unfortunately, y’all, not all, but many, will agree with me that social media has ruined everyone’s collective perspective on the world around us, a social choice has been made to remain being led by their noses. I did not nor will I superimpose anything French on any profile picture I have anywhere for any reason. This does not mean I do not feel sympathy for the dead or the survivors as many claim, it means I choose not to give in to games people play or the pressure people feel from the presence of “friends” not wanting to be left out. I rarely speak out about my political or religious opinions because, like many, I feel it falls on deaf ears.

But, now I will, now I will jump on my soapbox, now I will say the unpopular things, the insensitive things, the un-fuckingpolitically correct things, and the things that many are thinking but are afraid to say outloud. We, the people of the United States of America, have big problems that no politicians want to solve with already having an open borders policy. I personally live in a city where our homeless, many of which are our veterans, go dismissed on a daily basis because there is no money to support them. Yet, I watch as people flood across our borders get everything they need to survive because they are some sort of “refugee”, a term I will use very loosely here, and have little or nothing to go back to if they are turned away. For some reason it makes me less of a human being when I say enough is enough. There has and always will be some form of some kind of crisis in the world which makes people want to flee their nation, whether it be political, social, financial, natural disasters, or war. In every corner of the globe there are reasons to flee, to start over some place new, and to bring their problems with them. We don’t live in a world where everyone wants to be friends, holding hands by the campfire, and singing kumbaya. We live in a world of conquest, a world where the weak are preyed upon for one of thousands of reasons. We as Americans cannot stop this globally, but we damn sure should give it a shot here on U.S. soil. But we don’t, we reach out to the world to give it a tight hug eventhough we know we will be stabbed in the back. Reading this morning I see even more states have decided to go against the President and refuse to allow refugees, I applaud them, they should have been doing this long ago, we have our own people in need right here and right now. No, not every single refugee is a terrorist, but why take chances, why not be fearful of a sheep in wolves clothing, why not worry about our problems first? I’ll tell you why, fear. The United States of America has some pretty fucked up foreign and domestic policies that the government rams down our throats daily and most people thank them asking, “sir may I have another?”. Why? Fear, that’s why, fear. We are not the world’s police force, our military is a very misused tool eventhough our military took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. I’m getting off base here, so let me touch back a moment, allowing more displaced refugees to enter the United States of America is a mistake, it invites everything everyone says we are fighting against into our backyard. Why? Go ahead, ask yourself why, ask yourself why it is a fantastic idea, and then sit back and watch.

The world is full of terror and terrible people, there is no collective place of safety anywhere, but this is our world to live upon and we need to start standing up and taking back what doesn’t belong to anyone else. But we won’t, its not politically correct, its not the christian thing to do, its not the politicians point of view, and its just plain wrong to sit back and watch. Bullshit. But your wrong if you think I don’t care, because I do, but I have my priorities in place, I put my families survival first, I see no reason at all, not one, why I should put my family at risk. Call me selfish, but their safety comes first, being able to feed them comes first, assuring their livelihood comes first, and seeing that I have others to battle for those things already I have no room in my life for more problems. Yes, I’m a cold hearted motherfucker because I personally don’t want or see the purpose of putting myself, my family, or other Americans further down the food chain because our President thinks it’s a grand plan. We have far too much domestic garbage on our plates, we need not invite more. With that being said, I do feel pain and sorrow for the people of France, for the lives lost and changed forever, and also that now they are forced to rely on the world to help reap their revenge. When will it stop? Where will the line be drawn this time? Your right, it will never end, somewhere there is always war, somewhere there is a government out of control, and the world will continue to lose lives, money, resources as she continues to grow and evolve. But you don’t give a shit about the future, your compassion is called upon once again to guilt you into the belief that we must stop our own lives to accept the problems others in the world have created. But wait, why is the United States of America getting involved to begin with? Asked yourself that yet? The United States of America doesn’t do shit ever unless they there is something politically to gain from it. Not you and I gain something, but the government gaining something. What is it they hope to gain now? Shall they write more checks from our checking account to cover the expenses? There is no end in sight. Let’s now look at what is happening, let’s look at the road we are being led down today, so let’s look internationally a moment at France’s use of Article 42.7 of the Treaty on European Union.

Article 42.7… Much like NATO’s Article 5 Defense Clause, France has chosen to rely on its European neighbors and followed through with Article 42.7 of the Treaty on European Union. So what does this mean? Since Article 42.7 is consistent with commitments under NATO; the only conclusion would be France doesn’t want American involvement; considering Article 222 of the Treaty specifies; “the union and its member states shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a member state is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster. The union shall mobilize all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the member states.” And understand this, France was attacked by ISIS and American involvement in Syria hasn’t REMOVED ISIS; why? Because the Obama Administration isn’t interested in removing ISIS, this Administration is only focused on a Regime change in Syria; i.e. removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And this Administrations involvement HAS and WILL make things worse. Consider this, the 5,000 “Moderate” Syrian Fighters being trained in Saudi Arabia will only become the NEW ISIS fighters in Syria within a few months. All at the cost of U.S. Taxpayers to the tune of 15 Billion Dollars. Look at it like this, British Survivor of the Terrorist Attack at the Bataclan Theatre, France, witnessed ISIS terrorist using knives to torture their mortally wounded victims by slitting their stomachs as they lay on the floor. Think about that for a minute… Allow that to sink in a fucking minute. This Administration is continuing to develop the fighters that will fill the ranks of ISIS and WE ARE PAYING FOR IT TO HAPPEN… And you think it ends there? Ask yourself this, how come 2,098 Syrian Muslims are allowed to FLEE Syria and come into the United States but only 53 Syrian Christians have been allowed in? But the President, OUR ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES said this at the G20 Summit, “We don’t have religious tests to our compassion. We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.” And if you TRULY BELIEVE it’s all Obama’s fault, THEN WHY IS HE STILL IN OFFICE? Why hasn’t your State Representative in D.C. filled for impeachment? Why? Because they too DO NOT CARE about you or I. It’s time to wake up and see that Americans are not who they are interested in, because if they were, the United States of America would be a different place right now. Believe me, I don’t blame a certain President, he is not the blame for the state of the Union, but he is responsible for his policies and the continuation of policies from decades of other corrupted politicians. Daily we are asked to put our lives in the hands of people who don’t care about you and I, I only am asking why we still do it, why do we trust people who do not have our interests in mind, and why do we continue to elect people who keep fucking us all over?

In the end, I’m very fucking displeased with people, in general, right now. The United States of America is being jammed down the toilet politically and financially already, perhaps if the politicians and the people of this great Nation keep flushing it hard enough we will become a place nobody wants to come to legally, or flee to, and we will continue to evolve into a nation of politics and policies which has fucked it’s people into poverty unable to ever recover. Yes I’m fucking pissed, yes I’m done, and yes, if we as a Nation are not willing to unfuck generations of corruption in our government and big businesses then we will never see the end of the greed which we so proudly support. The decision is yours to want to lead or to follow, that choice cannot be made for you, the mistakes we are making as a Nation makes us appear as fools to our enemies. Every breath you take is being watched right now, history books are being written right now, and when we look back we can all hang our heads in shame together.

I’m done posting my normal day to day stuff here for a while, I’m tired of this whole pointless blogging thing, but before I stopped for a bit on the regular shit I had the above to say. I’m not here on this planet for the politicians to decide my fate in life and I have a feeling this post may raise more than one fucking eyebrow, but it all needed to be said, it all needed to be heard, and I stand behind it 100%. If you feel this is the end of our relationship I understand. If you feel that you must bitch at me for “keeping it fucking real” don’t bother. In my opinion, one way or another we are fucked because most people just don’t care anymore. I don’t know if I’m ready to put my soapbox away yet, there is much more I wish to discuss which I have stayed silent about for far too long. It’s all fun and games until the scorpion is backed into a corner. Live well my friends, live well while you still can, and if you read this and you are mad, merely thank me because you are fucking welcome.

We Are Veterans Every Day Of The Year

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Every once in a while there is something that rubs me the wrong fucking way and typically I try to keep my big mouth shut because my words fall on deaf ears. I, and all veterans of our United States military, are veterans every single day of the year. There is not a special day like 11 November that we are magically a veteran, we are veterans whether you fucking celebrate or not. We are not fucking tokens to be polished up and displayed for your annual appreciation, we are people, we are veterans, and we are here every single fucking day of the year. I spent the latter part of this morning reading emails, Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ posts, and texts because I was out earlier, as I am every Wednesday, spending time with my veteran friends who go otherwise unnoticed. They have been discarded at one point or another by family and friends, nobody even wants to be in their lives any longer. I’ve been visiting every Wednesday without fail for 16 years because I want to be a part of their lives. I have met many wonderful men and women who proudly served our Nation’s military. They are a group who are homeless, or jobless, or bent, or broken, or in need, or all of the above, but they are also human beings who get treated like the scum of the Earth. My question to you is why? Unfortunately I cannot be anything more than a friend to any of them. Unfortunately all I have to offer is kindness and my time. Unfortunately my smiles, hugs, and words are never enough.

On this day, 11 November 2015, a young man I spent allot of time getting to know was not at our meeting place. Early this morning he was stabbed and killed while sleeping outside under a bridge. Why? We will never fucking know. What I do know is that people celebrate only those whom they come into contact with, free meals here and there, discounts at this place or that place, partial proceeds donated to one organization or another today only, and taking the time to thank a veteran for his/her service and commitment when we show our faces. I’m not the person who you’ll see enjoying a free meal, I’m not the person you’ll see buying a new car, I’m not the person you’ll see at the big sales today, I’m not the person you’ll see getting a free haircut today, you won’t see me today because I, like all of our veterans, are veterans every day of the year.

I don’t know how you teach your children or how you were taught, but my children are taught that veterans are human beings all year long, not just on a day of remembrance, not just on other holidays, we are here every day. I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a loving, understanding family, I have a job, I have a roof over our heads, and I try to live a normal life. I know many veterans who do not, who struggle every day to survive mentally, spiritually, and physically, they no longer know the peace I feel. We are a growing number that most don’t remember until Veterans Day, but we are always here.

In closing I would like to say that I’m a proud veteran who does not regret his service to his country. I will ask all of y’all to remember that we will still exist tomorrow, the next day, and forever. All I want is kindness and a smile for myself and all veterans, show us we mean something all the time because so many veterans don’t have friends and families in their lives. I will leave y’all with this very moving poem. As a sidenote, I do not have express permission to display this poem and can only hope that nobody minds it’s presentation on my blog, it’s one of my favorite veterans poem.

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER

(A Soldier Died Today)

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting  old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,

And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,

In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,

All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,

And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,

For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.

Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,

And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,

While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,

But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land

A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,

Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives

Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.

While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,

Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,

That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know

It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,

Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,

Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?

Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend

His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,

But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part

Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

Only Once A Year On November 11th

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At precisely 11:11 a.m. each Veterans Day (Nov. 11), the sun’s rays pass through the ellipses of the five Armed Services pillars to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.

The Anthem Veterans Memorial, located in Anthem, Arizona, is a monument dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of the United States armed forces. The pillar provides a place of honor and reflection for veterans, their family and friends, and those who want to show their respects to those service men and women who have and continue to courageously serve the United States.

The memorial was designed by Anthem resident Renee Palmer-Jones. The five marble pillars represent the five branches of the United States military. They are staggered in size (from 17 ft to 6 ft) and ordered in accordance with the Department of Defense prescribed precedence, ranging from the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard.

Additionally, the brick pavers within the Circle of Honor are inscribed with the names of over 750 U.S. servicemen and women, symbolizing the ‘support’ for the Armed Forces. The pavers are red, the pillars are white, and the sky is blue to represent America’s flag. The circle represents an unbreakable border. Anthem resident and chief engineer, Jim Martin was responsible for aligning the memorial accurately with the sun.

Anthem Veterans Memorial

41703 N. Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
(623) 742-6050

Photographs by Mike Spinelli

Veterans Day is an official United States holiday that honors people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I (major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect).

The United States also originally observed Armistice Day; it then evolved into the current Veterans Day holiday in 1954.Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

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