Many years ago, at least twice and possibly more, my parents took my sister and me to visit with the aged residents of what was then the Indiana State Soldiers’ Home and which today is known as the Indiana Veterans’ Home. The building seen in the first link is the one I recall. We sat on the expansive porch and visited, in our five-or-six-year-old-way with some elderly men. I recall one by vision, a very elderly man who could well have been a veteran of an 19th-century war, his white hair thin and I think his dentures out, swaddled in a lap blanket.

I recall the porch generously overlooking the frequently-flooding Wabash through the boughs of overhanging trees, willows and the like. The historical archive site notes that the Home was located off Riverside Road, so it seems likely that’s true. Google Maps clearly shows the Wabash running by the foot of the Home, so my thirty-four-year-old brain chemistry appears to be intact.

Anyway, this is one of the many experiences my parents provided to me that I am deeply grateful for. I wish that this had been an annual tradition instead of a one-or-two year detour. My family has absolutely no tradition of military service, but for what appears to be an entire generation lost (and lost to memory) during the Civil War in Missouri. I do think that my own profound suspicion of war and interest in and even reverence of service must reflect my family’s heritage. I may be a bright man, but I am neither an original thinker nor a genius. War is bad; service is not. I have never shied from expressing my concerns to friends who enlist; I have never shied from expressing my support and concern for those in I know in combat zones and on this day I regularly think of them as well as that old man, and the young men he left behind or killed on the fields of Cuba, the Philippines, France, Germany, Korea, Southeast Asia, Central America, and Iraq.

Rarely to do I concur with the judgments of the callous and evil men who send you to do their will and I honor and respect them not at all, even when I concur with their judgments. I honor and respect your service and I always will.