Each Veteran's and Memorial day (and sometimes in-between) I experience the slightest pang of guilt for being the first generation of my branch of the family that did not serve in the armed forces. My dad served in Korea, my grandfather in WWII, great grandad served in WWI, great, great grandad served during the Spanish American War, great, great, great grandad served in both the Civil War and Mexican-American Wars, greatX4 grandad served but didn't have to fight, greatX5 grandad fought in the American Revolution and the family had been here almost 150 years when that party started.
This long history of service ended with yours truly. Maybe the Cold War Baby mentality somehow thought it was not important, maybe I just didn't care enough at the time. Vietnam caused us to lose a lot of our blind patriotism ... and certainly our collective feeling of invincibility and moral superiority. I don't know. I do know that I've felt these slight regrets for a while now. Not enough to wish I could somehow turn back time and make different choices; largely because I love how my life turned out and could not be more happy with the family my wife and I have created ... a family that would not exist if I could have a "do over."
My son submitted his applications to all three military academies recently and is getting the letter of recommendation from our congressman soon (his last step). In a weird way, this both makes me feel worse that I didn't serve and wildly proud at the same time. If he gets in, I just hope that his service is as uneventful as my great, great, great, great grandad's was.
To all Vets, I offer my profound thanks. Whether or not you served in armed conflict, you served ... which is far more than I can say.