Michael Lebowitz reflects on Veterans Day, the freedom to choose and peace.
Today is Veterans Day or what we used to call Armistice Day when I was a kid. I asked my dad about it and he told me it was when the fighting stopped in Europe in the First War and then it became a holiday for veterans of Second War, his war. My war? Vietnam in the form of not going to fight because it was possible to do that then. When I look back at it I wonder how it became okay for me to go to school and then have my life, (of which i made a drug addled mess) while other guys who couldn’t afford the ticket and had to go, went to the Central Highlands and the Delta and came home as names on the Wall. I have no answer for that, only the question and it is something that stays with me all these years later.
Ain’t no thing, Billy, who did his time in the Highlands used to say to me,Michael, it ain’t no thing. Peace is where you find it. Armistice day, a cessation of hostilities? Ten plus years ago for me when the drugs were done and I started over. Billy was right, peace is where you find it, but you have got to look for it, do the work, make it work and you have got to start with you. Rectitude is a choice, Tim O’Brien once told me this in a response to a letter I had written to him late one night after having read The Things They Carried.