I read with interest the editorial, “Where have all the veterans gone?” I, too, grew up during the draft years and recognize the effects of an all-volunteer army as opposed to one made up, at least in part, with reluctant soldiers. As the editorial pointed out, this has many implications in politics and foreign policy. Certainly, the draft increases the number of veterans since, presumably, drafted individuals generally leave the service as soon as possible, to be replaced by new recruits.
Logically, more contact with those who have served increases our awareness of veterans and thus our respect for Veterans Day. During our assembly at Wakefield Country Day School last Wednesday (Nov. 10), Army Col. Lalit Piplani addressed our students. He was the latest in a long line of Veterans Day speakers (for example, Robert Darby, John Lyle, Dave Hilty, Harley Hughes, Ray Dubois). Piplani spoke not only of the meaning of Veterans Day but also of the sacrifice of our military, referencing Leonard Cowherd Jr. — for whom Wakefield’s auditorium is named. He quoted from the poem “In Flanders Field” and the plaque at the Army War College (“not to promote war, but to preserve peace”).
At the conclusion of his remarks, the students, ages 6 to 18, spontaneously rose in a standing ovation, and many later approached Col. Piplani to shake his hand and thank him for serving our country. And, the next day, a pile of thank you notes appeared on my desk for him.
I am confident that the students at Rappahannock High School were similarly enthusiastic and appreciative of the veteran addressing them. So, while some may complain about the closing of the bank or the lack of mail delivery, and politicians may lack understanding of the troops on the ground, and the electorate may not attend as closely to military issues and concerns, I am proud to say that our young people are growing up with respect, admiration, and appreciation for veterans. As one third-grader concluded his thank-you note,
Head of School, Wakefield Country Day School