It's Veterans Day, 2011. I'm seeing a lot of e-mails about the free meals being handed out by various chain restaurants and hearing radio ads, ditto. I'm sure if I watched TV any more I'd be seeing ads about this as well. If you think I'm griping about it, though, you're wrong. If Applebee's and Chili's and Famous Dave's and Outback want to demonstrate their patriotism and their support for the military by feeding veterans and active duty troops, well, more power to 'em. It's all good.

Me, I'm going to burn my own food at home, because to be honest, I don't think I have any business getting in on any of that action. Every Veteran's Day reminds me of the fact that I was a pretty crappy soldier: lazy, stubborn, and too slow on the uptake to get the multiple none-too-subtle suggestions to GTFO. This will come as no surprise to anyone reading my nodes about my time in the Army. I was a peacetime soldier of the Cold War; most of my career was spent in the National Guard and Army Reserve, and I never saw the elephant. I never got any kind of awards or decorations, which is fine since I didn't do anything to rate any kind of merit or valor-based award. I finished my career with an involuntary transfer to the Individual Ready Reserve because my weight had gotten way too far out of hand, which I guess was an appropriately inglorious end to an undistinguished career.

Now, I'm aware that most of us who put on the uniform never see combat; my father is a good example of that, having spent twenty-two years in the Air Force and missed out on both Korea and Vietnam. Still, when he retired, he did so with a rather respectable collection of fruit salad, including one not normally awarded to enlisted men. Likewise, my Uncle Joe spent two tours in Vietnam with the Special Forces and retired after putting in his thirty. Next to that, my lengthy record of...going to drill once a month and to annual training in the summer doesn't seem like much, especially to me.

So, yeah...staying home and burning my own food today. There's plenty of other veterans and active duty military around these parts who deserve it a lot more.