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Remembering Our Veterans

A Special Veteran’s Day

Like most of you, I have paid homage to the veterans in our country on this special day. I have also enjoyed the benefits of a day off school or a paid day off work.

But I grew up in a neighborhood where exposure to the military was rare. I had no family members in the armed services. Even my father missed serving in World War II due to blindness in one eye.

It wasn’t until I moved to Oceanside, California, that I started to appreciate the true meaning of Veteran’s Day. I lived two miles from Camp Pendleton, a Marine and Navy base. Many retired service members have made their home in Oceanside. You can’t go to town for a movie or dinner without running into the men and women who serve our country. Not always in uniform, they are easy to spot with their shorn hair. I often saw them frequenting the local ice cream parlor. Many looked too young to be in the military. Indeed, too young to be fighting wars.

I was profoundly moved to meet these men and women. I knew my character, Matthew, in Many a Sudden Change had to be a Marine. I did a tremendous amount of research on the war in Afghanistan. Did you know you can go online and watch actual footage of our men in arms in battle? It is eye-opening. Another fact, twenty-two veterans per day in this country commit suicide.

Palos Verdes is now my home again, and although I don’t see those young men and women on the street as I once did, I can no longer think of Veterans in the abstract. On this Veteran’s Day, I will remember those young boys buying ice cream and their jovial camaraderie with each other and me. And I am also going to remember what they have sacrificed for us, often at the cost of their own lives.

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