Yesterday I received what has become an annual gift in recognition of my two years of honorable service in the U.S. Army. A few days earlier I received my annual insult from the American Legion.
The gift was a delicious free meal at Applebee’s. The place was packed with veterans and their families. Every vet who entered was presented with a nifty little red, white, and blue lapel button. The air was filled with “thank you for your service” wishes courtesy of the restaurant staff.
Veterans young and old were having a ball. Some wore caps identifying their service. Not surprisingly, a few brought along a little barracks humor. We overheard one old geezer greeting another with, “Tom, I didn’t know you were in World War II.”
“I sure was,” Tom said. “And I even was on our side.”
On Tuesday, a thick packet of information, including a dozen free address labels, arrived from American Legion headquarters. The package also had a temporary membership card, a “certificate of nomination,” and a personalized letter. The letter congratulated me for doing military duty and said if I “qualified” I could become a member of the organization and receive numerous services.
To “qualify” all I had to do was certify that one day of my two years in the Army fell within certain time periods dating back to April 6, 1917. I already knew there would be no fit. My two years of active duty don’t count, because the U.S. theoretically was not at war. Some of the guys from my unit who were sent to Viet Nam as “advisors” probably would be amused, or perhaps enraged, to learn that.
Once again, the Legion had the audacity to remind thousands of us “peacetime soldiers” that we are considered second-class vets. (for some details about this outrage, click on “Upon Further Review” under Most Popular Posts in the right-hand column on this page.)
Applebee’s considers every honorably discharged veteran a first-class vet. They serve all of us on Veterans Day. May the restaurant chain grow and prosper.
May the American Legion leaders, who sign their letters “serving veterans,” march straight to . . . .