To All Readers,
For those of you familiar with Casemate Publishers we trust it’s been clear enough that we honor every individual who has sacrificed the comfort of their own hearths and home to fight for their country. However, this Veterans’ Day has been especially important to us due to all the cross-currents of patriotic wars, both modern and past.
Foremost, this year is the 70th anniversary of World War II, which means that fewer and fewer of our veterans of that conflict will soon remain with us. Justifiably termed “The Greatest Generation,” they indeed had the greatest challenges, and to remember their sacrifices in battle or pure service is one of our own foremost goals.
Following the WWII generation is our veterans from Korea (in fact, many of the same people, called back again to fight), and it is still a poignancy here that the war they waged has heretofore remained the “forgotten” one. Not so in the true annals of America’s military history.
At the same time this is the 100th anniversary of the Great War, which first ripped Europe apart in armed conflict and set the stage for America emerging as a global power. Although those veterans are no longer with us, many readers are discovering for the first time the horrific travails faced by the soldiers on all sides. Suffice to say that while America only entered that conflagration in its last year, our 173,000 dead left enough of a mark upon the Continent’s soil.
This year is also the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, or least of the year when the Union finally exerted its full force. It is still the costliest war in American history, which perhaps could be expected when our people fought each other, naturally neither side willing to give in.
Vietnam doesn’t lend itself to anniversaries, but it was the hardest-fought war we’ve engaged in since World War II, and also proved a watershed in American history. Now, believe it or not, many of those veterans—who listened to rock’n’roll in their spare time—are reaching retirement age. It sometimes seems so recent that they were fighting confrontational battles with the NVA on one hand, in far-off Southeast Asia, while “marches on Washington” or college protests were going on at home. If ever a war was fought with such disconnect—between its homeland and its soldiers—it was Vietnam. And our warriors (most of them draftees) simply returned to become some of our greatest citizens, less 58,000 dead and 350,000 wounded suffered on our behalf.
Vietnam caused the changeover of the US Army into a “volunteer” force, and the startling statistic emerged this week that 2.5 million American men and women have served for us in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Notwithstanding that that number means 98% of Americans no longer need to serve, it prompts nothing but respect for those who have willingly volunteered to fight.
This Veterans’ Day is a true mix. Many of those from past wars are now reaching their twilight, if not already, while we have the greatest respect for the new veterans among us. While here at Casemate we seek to chronicle all of their sacrifices, it goes without saying that we look forward to an end to all wars, if possible, or at least the wisdom on the part of our leaders to gain victories in them when the occasion rises. The courage of our people calls for nothing less.
As proven throughout the past two hundred years, American soldiers will always prove their excellence. We’ll continue to see if our political leadership can say the same, even as our respect for the veterans who have fought on our behalf over the years knows no bounds.