Veterans Day

Most of us travel for fun, excitement and to learn.

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Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

Others travel for business to enrich themselves and the companies they work for. Then there are some who travel because they are assigned to or volunteer to do so.

Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

These are the active military which pack up their lives, leave family and set out into the great wide open. The destination may be known but there are no hotels, motels or hostels. Instead there is often hostility and a life under rudimentary conditions in harsh climates. Sometimes even whole cities and infrastructure must be built during conflict from scratch in war zones.

Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

Some may even arrive by parachute or on skis and have to carry food and water for days on their back not to forget heavy equipment, equipment to protect from environmental dangers like climate, health hazards and antagonists. There is no TripAdvisor community to learn from, the lodging maybe a bombed out house, a flimsy barracks or a tent. The best restaurant perhaps a MRE sitting on a rock. Tours are conducted in body armor and helmet. Sights perhaps nothing anyone wants to see, sights of death and destruction. Some pay the ultimate prize and see no more. So why do it?

Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

There is no one answer but perhaps there is a moral compass pointing towards “it is the right thing to do” to lend a hand to a country in crisis. It could be combined with the opportunity to learn about another country and culture whilst serving its people. To assist with peacekeeping, create stability and maintain security, all pre-requisites for a functioning state.

Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

To celebrate the efforts of those who have participated in such missions a “Veterans Day” is celebrated in many countries. In the Netherlands (where King Willem Alexander was once in active Navy Duty as well as a pilot) it is celebrated with a parade and large exhibition in The Hague on the last Saturday in June.

Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

Today I stand with my “Brothers in Arms” which is by the way the top song on the Dutch Veterans Top 50 and the album record holder with 269 weeks on the Dutch charts). It has a special place in my heart as it was the song that rang out through the SWEDENGCOY PA system on a November Day in 1988 when L96 became L98 in Jwayya (Jouaiyya) Southern Lebanon, a place first held by Dutch UN Peacekeepers 1979-85.

My (blue) beret off to all those who have contributed to something bigger than self.

Rialto fish market, Venice, Italy

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