In Honor of Veterans Day

My dad (Howard Edmund Wile) as a naval aviator.

My dad (Howard Edmund Wile) as a naval aviator.

I don’t typically do many holiday posts, and when I do, they are about Christian holidays. However, later on today I am going to attend a Veterans Day ceremony in which my father, Howard Edmund Wile, will be honored for his service. He is 89 years old and was in the Navy during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He was a turret gunner on a PV2 Harpoon and an aviation ordnanceman on four different aircraft carriers. He retired with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. This, of course, has made me think about Veterans Day and how important it is to remember those who have served. In honor of all veterans, I give you “A Nation’s Strength” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

10 Comments

  1. CJL says:

    Thank God for our veterans – and for those who honor them. May God send us more of both.

    1. Joe Todd says:

      Hear, Hear! Well said.

      🙂

  2. Robert Byers says:

    IN Canada we have the same thing but called remembrance day.
    It has been, is, and should be remembered about those MEN, its not women and they shouldn’t be included in the same status, who risked their lives and health for the values of our nations. As long as they stayed themselves in those values and the war interests were the right values.
    War should only be fought to save innocent peoples lives/bodies or for judical punishment of when that law was broken.
    The important wars the Anglo American nations fought are in the righteous column.

  3. Bill McClymonds says:

    I would like to address a comment made by Robert in his post.

    My brother was a combat helicopter pilot in Viet Nam. One of the men who was stationed on the same base where my brother was assigned was wounded and sent to a nearby hospital unit for treatment. He spoke highly of a nurse who served the wounded and dying soldiers with great patience and compassion. Even though she did not experience front line combat, she may be suffering today from the same Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that affects my brother and so many others in his outfit.

    The nurse I described is just one example. So many other women have served our country (USA) bravely and well. Many have even been killed while serving in the military. These women deserve our respect and appreciation.

  4. Virginia Stark-Vance says:

    Having served in both the Air Force and the Navy, the latter as a medical officer, I agree that most women in the military do not take on a combat role – although this may change. Both men and women in the military serve in support roles, behind the front lines, and no one should question their service because they were not in direct combat. I agree that those who are subjected to gunfire, mines, and bombs deserve the utmost respect for their sacrifice. I am glad that I could serve my country in any role, and I’m proud to be included in “Veterans Day.”

  5. Robert Byers says:

    Bill and Virginia. I disagree. It is the men today and in the past who did what really mattered. Face death and give death.
    It was small percentages of women who even were close to the action much less hurt by it.
    Respect AMEN for the few but respect must go mostly and more so to man. The inclusion of women is a injustice to the remembrance of real people in real war. its not a social agenda to equalize the genders in the important of war .
    it should be emphasized it was men IF they are slyly implying it was both sexes who deserve equal respect.
    most support in the wars was also from men.
    I don’t agree with women fighting anyways but i defnd the men who really faced real trouble and overcame.
    Inclusion of women is exclusion of truth on real people doing the real deal.
    The phrase men and women who fought is just plain wrong and injust to the men who did.
    I remember and back them up.
    Respect the people but if gender matters then respect the gender that matters. Gender does matter because its a factor in the people who fought.

    1. jlwile says:

      I agree with Bill and Virginia. I don’t know about Remembrance Day in Canada, but Veterans Day in the U.S. is for all those who served. There were some men who served and never saw combat, but without their service, we might not have been victorious. In the same way, there were some women who did serve in combat. Even in World War II, there were women who served on anti-aircraft crews, helping to shoot down enemy airplanes. Everyone who serves plays an important role, and they rarely have a choice as to what that role is. On Veterans Day, I honor all those who served, regardless of gender.

      Without their service, we might not have the freedom to argue on blogs today.

  6. Robert Byers says:

    jLwile
    aMEN. Honour all who served the armed forces. Yet lets not homour the sexes equally iof thats the motive for stressing the female contribution.
    they really do mean to hide the male dominance in contribution for feminist liberal reasons.
    it should be stressed this was a male war service. not gender neutral.
    it is the men. of our nations and not the women even if some women were involved.
    its honouring gender accomplishment accurately and justly and importantly.
    Saying men and women , as they do, is deliberate, i accuse them in the establishment, and is a great insult to the men who served.
    Words matter. my honour to defend the men who faced the danger by hugh numbers on our side.
    Also the few nurses etc in the armed forces.

    1. jlwile says:

      I agree that words matter, Robert, which is why we should specifically say that we honor the men and women who served, since both men and women did serve. This has nothing to do with gender neutrality or some feminist agenda. It has everything to do with honoring all of those who served.

  7. Joe Todd says:

    Thank you for posting this moving tribute to your father and to all those who have served.

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