Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jack Kerouac and Veterans' Day

Jack Kerouac's 1942 Naval Reserve photo

Today is Veterans' Day here in the U.S. Some folks - not me - will have tomorrow off from work as part of the celebration. The Kerouac connection is that Jack joined the U.S. Naval Reserve on December 8, 1942. He didn't even make it through boot camp in Newport, RI, eventually ending up in the Bethesda (Maryland) Naval Hospital where he was diagnosed with "dementia praecox" (read about that here) and discharged for "unsuitability." Click here for more details.

Jack later served in the Merchant Marine and served on the S.S. Dorchester when it sailed for Greenland in 1942. Jack used that experience in his novels, Vanity of Duluoz and The Sea is My Brother. The Dorchester was later sunk by a torpedo from a German U-Boat on February 3, 1943, taking 704 American lives.

I'm not a veteran, although I toyed with the idea of enlisting during one particularly disjointed phase of my life. My son, Jason, served for four years in the U.S. Army Airborne, stationed at Fort Bragg the whole time but seeing some deployments in places such as Thailand and Jordan. I'm proud of him for that (I don't think I could ever jump out of an airplane).

I'm not a fan of war, and I oppose killing in general (yes, even the death penalty) - although in self-defense I would not rule it out - and yet I do stand in appreciation of those who put their lives on the line in our military despite our government's generally misguided use of our armed forces in other parts of the world.

It's too bad we need a military. Humans have the capacity to create a world where it's unnecessary, but we choose otherwise. That said, let's take a moment today to remember all the veterans past and present who put their lives on the line in service to others. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you to any veteran reading this blog.
Left or right, hawk or dove, on this Veterans Day I hope everyone could just take a moment and think about the bravery and love of country that these men and women possess. Just to sign those enlistment papers, knowing that they could be killed or maimed, takes more courage than most of us will ever possess. And please remember, no matter how opposed to this or any war that we may be, the veteran's intentions should be enough for all of us to take a moment and say thank you tomorrow. Rick, please extend my thanks to your son. Richard Marsh