Born too late for Vietnam and too soon for the Gulf War, I did not have the honor of serving my country in the military. I think it's important to take the time to thank those who did serve, however, and Veterans' Day is a good opportunity to do so. Olivia and I watched the Veterans' Day parade here in Athens, then we went to the local Catholic cemetary where I donned my old Boy Scouts shirt and played taps while standing amidst the graves of the veterans who are buried there, much to either the amusement or annoyance of the students living in the rental homes surrounding the graveyard.
When I got home I watched The Longest Day on TV. During a break I switched over to C-SPAN, only to see Richard Dawkins lecturing somewhere in Lynchburg, Virginia, of all places. At the point at which I tuned in he was making jokes about the assassination attempt against John Paul II. Charming man, really. Real classy guy. I found myself wondering how the British veterans who fought to defend freedoms such as those enjoyed by Richard Dawkins would feel about how he makes use of his freedoms, and it occured to me that it shouldn't matter: when we value human life, we value all human life equally. Richard Dawkins is every bit as valuable as I am, and I would defend his life along with my own if it was just me and him against some crazy person with a gun. But I have to confess that, after channel surfing a bit, I found myself wondering about the extent to which we all take our freedoms for granted. After watching Combat Hospital on CNN I found myself filled with a strange sense of remorse over the debauched and materialist ways of our society as portrayed on many of the other channels I passed by in quick succession. Thinking of all the pain and suffering there is in the world, some of it endured precisely so that I won't have to endure any myself, prompted me to want to take my own life a little more seriously. As a way of saying thank you to the persons who risked their lives in defense of the common good, the common good even of those who don't believe that there is any such thing as a common good.