Yesterday was also the Marine Corps Birthday, which I normally celebrate with private prayers for all Marines, living and dead, here and abroad.
And today is Veteran's Day.
A lot of mixed feelings surging around, yesterday and today both. The war Richard and I were involved in, as military personnel during it, was an unpopular war, and one in which anti-war feelings were directed at military personnel very directly. Both of us took the brunt of some--others did too. Vietnam vets, in the immediate postwar period, were depicted as either fools (the route his brothers took) or villains. We got no respect, that is to say, particularly since we were not willing to leap over the line to become extreme right wingers (though even conservative vets had political problems if they weren't orthodox enough for the new Right leadership.)
Even though the murders at Fort Hood took place last week, and the memorial yesterday, my thoughts on that particular incident are still too inchoate to write out, tangled with the expressions others have had.
On our own time in the military...for me, in the long run, a life-changing experience. The military--its discipline, its missions, its ethos--forces those who enter it to confront themselves, to recognize where they aren't what they thought. People have asked repeatedly if my years in the military affect my writing...and the answer is both an easy "Well, yeah--how do you think I can write realistic military SF?" and the more difficult "More than you can know." It was in the military that I first began to see past my own background's limitations--my own point of view--into that of others. It's where I met and worked alongside people very unlike myself--where I had to learn to negotiate the great cultural divides of this country: city/country, north/south, cosmopolitan/parochial.
So one of my overriding feelings today is one of gratitude. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to serve, grateful for the men and women I served with, and grateful for those who served before and are serving now.