Beanery Online Literary Magazine

November 2, 2009

Apologize to a Vet


Joe F. Stierheim

     Last year I attended a meeting on Veterans’ Day. Before the meeting started, one of the attendees came up to me, hand extended in friendship. “Thank you,” she said.
     “For what?” I asked, genuinely confused.
     “You’re a veteran, aren’t you? Veterans are supposed to be thanked on Veterans’ Day.”
     It wasn’t until after the end of the meeting—after I had had a chance to get my thoughts in order—that I talked to my friend a second time.
     “I appreciate you doing what you thought you should,” I said, “but next Veterans’ Day, don’t thank me or any other veteran. Instead, offer your apology to them.”
     I am a veteran of the Korean War. That’s not really true because I never saw action. I was still in basic training when the peace treaty was signed. But I did want to see action; that was why I volunteered to be drafted. I was young and idealistic at the time and to me the war was a landmark in the history of the world. It was the first time that the nations of the world had stood united to withstand aggression. Had that been the norm in prior times, I felt, much bloodshed and suffering could have been prevented. I wanted to do my part in ushering in a new era that would surely bring peace to the world.
     It was not until years later that I gained another perspective on the Korean War. I learned that the war had been brought on by a series of acts by colonialism that had begun long before. The events that led up to it were the result of oppression of a people. That was when the prevention of the war should have taken place—in the time of peace.
     Finding those facts out was the beginning of a new understanding for me. I was brought up to believe that America fought always on the side of right and justice. It took some time to correct that belief. All our wars, even those that we felt were necessary to “end all war”, could have and should have been avoided. Some began as a result of mistakes or errors of judgment and some were brought on by lies told to the American people. But all were avoidable. And those who served in those wars did so unnecessarily. Those who died or were wounded suffered unnecessarily as did and do their families.
And who was responsible for those injuries? It is convenient to put the blame on another group of people whom we do not know and certainly do not understand. But that lack of knowledge and understanding is simply another avoidable cause for war. We are a democracy, with government of the people and by the people. If we, the people, were not responsible for those wars, then who?
     It should be up to us to at least accept that responsibility it is not for peace that wars are fought. War cannot bring peace. War is not something to be proud of or be thankful for.

     This Veterans Day, apologize to a vet.


The Battle for Peace: A Book Review



AT FORT LIGONIER: Excerpt from book, WARPATH

Destination: Ligonier (PA)



  1. wow

    Comment by maplesyrup12 — November 2, 2009 @ 2:56 am | Reply

  2. On Wednesday, November 11, Applebees restaurant is offering a free meal to all young and old veterans. All they need to do is present a VA, American Legion, VFW, Uniform Services, or Retired Uniform Services ID card. Also accepted will be a picture in uniform, a Leave and Earnings Statement, or just show up in uniform. Please contact your Applebees to make sure they are participating, although at this time it is believed all in the western PA region are joining.
    This same offer will made by Golden Corral restaurants on November 16. This is their way to thank all veterans who have ever served.
    —From Fran

    Comment by beanerywriters — November 2, 2009 @ 11:18 pm | Reply

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