Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Standing in the Gap

This is the f'irst Veteran's Day I've spent without my father. He served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953.

An electrician with Flour Corporation and one-month veteran of marriage to Mom, Dad figured he would wind up in Korea. The Army put him in the Signal Corps and sent him to West Germany. He was one out of hundreds of thousands of Cold Warriors who, from 1945 to 1994, waited near the Fulda Gap and the North German Plain, the most-logical routes of a Soviet invasion that never took place. Then there were the thousands of Army and Air Force personnel who served in encircled West Berlin.

My friend, Chris, served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, in Vietnam and in Germany. The Blackhorse was based in Germany three times: 1944-1948, 1956-1966, and 1972-1994. During the last period, its headquarters was at Downs Barracks in Fulda, where this Blackhorse memorial remains.

On this Veteran's Day, we shouldn't forget those who quietly stand in the gap: Marines at U.S. embassies, Coast Guard boarding teams, flight crews of Air Force refueling tankers, the men and women buried deep inside Cheyenne Mountain, the crews of Aegis guided missle destroyers and subs, the members of reserve units, those along an remote, fortified border with North Korea, and countless others past, present and future.

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