“We owe our veterans everything and most of all we owe them a nation which uses its wealth and human expertise not for weapons but to improve the quality of life for everyone.”
My mother, Joyce Larson Scanlon, wrote those words as part of an angry op-ed article in 1982. Her kid brother Craig had just died after a sad, alcoholic life spent in and out of Veterans Administration hospitals and SRO hotels. He fought in Italy during WWII and came home a broken man who never recovered from his combat experiences.
Mom—a member of that Greatest Generation we hear so much about—wasn’t mad because of what the war had done to Uncle Craig. She was reacting to a recent Reagan administration decision to cut death benefits for veterans. Those were the post-Vietnam years when being a vet held little of the luster it does today, in 2013. (Disclosure: I was drafted in 1972 and served in Germany for two years.) Sometimes we treat our veterans honorably, other times not so much.
Today I honor veterans in the spirit of my mother, who will turn 92 in a couple weeks.