Chasing after veterans

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 16, 2003

I picked up a paper today and there were those dreamed-up retail sales, this one for us old veterans. I say &uot;old&uot; because there aren’t that many young ones, they are still in active pursuit of the honorable designation, not even welcome at those annual veteran sales. I did not participate and by not doing so saved millions of dollars. I did have to pick up a few nuts and bolts for a project I’m working on, but I got no special deal. I expected red white and blue flag tags on them, or the same colored sign saying &uot;reduced for veterans.&uot; I even wore my &uot;World War II Veteran&uot; cap so clerks would notice me. If they did they didn’t show it, no salute or genuflect. Oh well, next year.

There was also a big spread about veteran cemeteries where one day I will rejoin the troops, not that I am in any hurry to nail down a spot in the ranks. It’s just down the road from my home and I could actually stagger that far in the last moments. It is where Milner crosses Lake Prince Drive, 75 acres under massive construction. Take a drive out there if only to see the equipment and what looks like a pond, maybe even with it’s own fountain.

Did you realize there are still about 19 million veterans in this country? Compare the small amount of men and women in uniform today with the 16 million that fought the Germans and Japanese in the ’40s. Can you imagine that happening now; the liberal whining that would take place? And there weren’t 250 million Americans to pick from back then.


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Did you know that six of the 10 U. S. cities with the most veterans are in Virginia; that 20 percent of the population of Tidewater cities is veterans; that five military cemeteries are under construction in the country and 20 other applications have been filed. It is big business folks. The Suffolk cemetery is expected to hold the remains of over 14,000. It will be named for Albert G. Horton Jr., the man who pursued the $6.6 million required to construct the memorial. This will be a first-class operation and I guarantee our tourist director will attend my funeral. She may not have to wait long, as experts figured 1,700 veterans would die on this Veterans Day and the daily demise rate will accelerate. Nationwide it is expected that 350,000 veterans will die in 2004. I’m happy to say I don’t intend to be one of them; I may want to attend the next Veteran Day sale.

This ties in neatly with the attention awarded the daily deaths of fighting soldiers in Iraq. I remember no such gnashing of teeth during the war in Vietnam, Johnson’s war. No one could count the number of body bags being delivered to stateside. Thirty a day was a low number. Back in my war, the big one, over 400,000 military persons were killed. So far in Iraq we are under 400. Apparently we are a different kind of people now. We had to get a job done then like we must do now, but there was a lot less whining about it.

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And I want to be here to watch the development of the &uot;obesity disease.&uot; When I sit in the Health Department waiting room for my annual free influenza shot I want to look up at the bulletin board where they track nasty diseases in Suffolk, AIDs and the like. Surely they will record the number of citizens suffering from the serious effects of, shall we call it &uot;Ob?&uot; That would identify the condition without the stigma of writing out the whole word. &uot;Ob&uot; as a disease should rank right up there with nail biting, which one day will also be considered a disease because it, too, detracts from the appearance of the human body. I mean who wants to see stubby ragged nails? How about bald folks, should they not also be allowed legal means to gain favor? There’s disease deep in those hair follicles.

But first I want to know the body size of the medical &uot;experts&uot; who will determine the line to be crossed before being designated &uot;Ob.&uot; In fact, I want to know who dreamed up the silly idea it is a disease. Forget radical stomach stapling surgery, this suicidal disorder can easily be corrected by stapling shut the nostrils – no odor, no hunger. Will these same nutty doctors rail against buffet restaurants? Will fast-food epicures still be able to order large takeout meals if there is only one person in the car? And damned if I will wear a sign stating, &uot;Don’t feed me?&uot;

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted via e-mail: