Vail Daily’s View: This Veterans Day tougher than most
Vail, CO, Colorado
As these things go, Wednesday’s Veterans Day ceremony was harder than most.
The crowd at Freedom Park, beside the pond in Edwards, was big. Maybe the biggest. Many in that crowd had earned the right to salute during Taps, whether in uniform or not.
So that wasn’t it.
A new stand holding a piece of Pentagon granite from 9/11 was revealed. The last day of a sweet Indian Summer faded as veterans and dignitaries spoke the appropriate words.
That wasn’t it.
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Along with the press of this decade’s wars dragging on, the shootings at Fort Hood last week and the shootings at a Vail bar last Saturday have violated millions of veterans who served country and then community honorably.
Maybe that was it.
A bit of water in Pat Hammon’s eye, a shrug at hello how are you? Buddy Sims’ palpable anger these past few days while questioning the credentials of a man who has attended many of these events yet never joined the veterans group in this county, never shown his military papers to back his claims of combat, and now sits in a jail cell awaiting trial on charges of killing a man and wounding three others after being escorted out of a bar Saturday night.
And another veteran explaining, patiently as he could, how offended he is at the suspect being labeled a Vietnam veteran. He served in Vietnam and has endured decades of insults and stereotyping ever since.
What happened to sorrow over good, clean deaths on the field of battle?
Instead this year, it’s the shadows summoned in Fort Hood, where the Muslim psychiatrist — while we’re on a roll calling up stereotypes — will stand trial on charges of killing 13 soldiers bound for Afghanistan, and the longtime Vail resident who wore Vietnam on his sleeve all this time and then soiled it.
These were supposed to be the good guys. One of us, not them. How do you tell the enemy from … us?
That’s what hung over the service, which honors those who sacrificed all for their country. How do you rectify that with the very few who do not live up to the honor bestowed upon them?
To be sure, the shadows did not dominate. Retired Air Force Col. Buddy Sims told a funny story about going to D.C. in winter 2005 to pick up the granite. State Rep. Christine Scanlan spoke from the heart about her best friend’s husband serving three tours in Iraq. Former Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone received some justifiable praise for his efforts bringing Freedom Park into existence and getting the granite block finally displayed. A line of veterans read messages honoring those who gave it all for the country. A young rabbi prayed.
And the Taps played out, one bugle echoing another. This Veterans Day, those hanging notes said it all.
Vail Daily Editorial Board