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By Gina Channell Wilcox

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About this blog: I am President of Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division and the publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly, Dublin TriValley Views, San Ramon Express and Danville Express. As a 25-plus-year veteran of the media industry, I have experience...  (More)

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Honor those who have served and those currently serving

Uploaded: Nov 5, 2013
When I was in elementary school, one assignment I could always expect is the essay on "What my country means to me" or something along those lines, usually in conjunction with a contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion.

This tradition has not changed, and I was delighted and proud that in her essay on "What is Patriotism?" my 13-year-old wrote that the highest form of patriotism is serving in the military, and being willing to give up everything, even life.

I grew up in a very different world – the 1970s – when, I am disappointed to say, military personnel and veterans were not only not appreciated, but were sometimes verbally abused. I didn't know this when I was writing my essays; my parents sheltered me from this harsh and pathetic reality. My father, a Marine, is a Vietnam Vet. He did three tours in the jungles of Vietnam with scorpions, snakes and snipers – and let's not forget the really nasty booby traps. He didn't come back to fanfare.

It is heartening to see this attitude has changed, and people - including children - are learning to respect those who put themselves in danger and suffered sacrifice for the rest of us. And now there are campaigns locally and nationwide to support our those who have served and those currently serving. Locally we have Sentinels of Freedom, which supports wounded veterans, Pleasanton Military Families, and Warriors Watch Ride, to name just a few.

Personally, after learning about what Vietnam vets endured, I will walk up, say "thank you" and shake the hands of total strangers who are in uniform or wearing something that identifies them as veterans. I bought my dad a hat that says "Vietnam Veteran" and I can only hope someone someday will walk up to him, say "thank you" and shake his hand.

I was disappointed, though, to hear that after this year Pleasanton's Veterans Day Parade will be the only parade honoring veterans in the Bay Area. San Jose will have its final Veterans Day parade this weekend. Does anyone know if there will be parades other than Pleasanton's in 2014?

Speaking of supporting current troops, there is currently a post on Facebook encouraging people to send holiday cards to our troops overseas. The post says "When filling out Christmas cards, take a card and send it to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. Pass this on and think of how many cards these wonderful people who have sacrificed so much would get. Please share. It's the least we can do to show our love and support. Deadline is Dec. 6." I will send at least one card, maybe two or three.

Also, I would like to honor some very special veterans in my life: My father, James Channell; my uncle, Roger Channell; my cousin, Dallas Channell Muenchrath; and Pleasanton Weekly Editor Jeb Bing.

Now it's your turn. Who are the special veterans in your life?

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Thank you for this article. I have worried for a number of years that our WWI, WWII and Vietnam solders memory would become lost in history. The 13 year old essay gives me some peace. I have eight uncles and two brothers that served. Three uncles and one brother were killed in action. The others came home after serving, lived out their lives and now are all resting in peace in military cemeteries around the country.

Posted by Butch Wright, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm

My parents didn't shelter me, but encouraged me to keep my eyes wide open to what goes on in the world. For those vets who served on the idea of 'My country, right or wrong', an idea many Vietnam vets embraced, I can only continue to hold them in disdain. Believe it or not, once one steps beyond the artificial shelters put up by our parents and other gatekeepers, one is exposed to higher principles than Nation. Truth. Justice. Freedom. Moral action. To serve a nation that is involved in an immoral cause rightfully deserves our criticism and disdain.

Our brains are wondrous things. It's a shame when so many of us act in a brain-dead manner and follow our leaders into unjust, murderous assaults upon innocent peoples around the world. It's no less of a shame when people encourage our children to continue following blindly our war-mongering leaders.

I write this in honor of my friend, Mike Hathaway, who served two years in prison for following the moral dictates of his conscience. The principled position he took against the war-mongers who led us into Vietnam made him one of the most courageous among us.

It is 40 years since the war's end, where 59,000 American kids died needlessly, and close to 2,000,000 Vietnamese perished in the atrocity that went by the name of the Vietnam War. And too many of us seemed to have learned absolutely nothing from it, except to be nice to our men and women in uniform. Parents, do not shelter your children from the "harsh and pathetic" realities of war and the moral conviction that is required if we are to put an end to the carnage.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Millions of citizens of children and adults have died needlessly.

Wars happens and millions for die. My guess is that will always be wars.

Nobody wins.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Wars happen and millions of innocent people die.

How can there ever be a winner in a war?

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