Veterans Day brings to mind one of the favorite anecdotes of my late father, Lewis Tyree.
Dad was inducted into the U.S. Army at the tail end of World War II. During basic training, the drill instructor demonstrated how to disarm a knife-wielding assailant. One by one he handed the recruits a knife and invited them to attack him.
Without exception the soldiers held the knife high overhead like a dagger and lumbered toward the instructor, who easily (sadistically?) made them drop the knife and used a judo flip to land them on their backsides.
When Dad’s turn came, he employed rural Tennessee common sense. He crouched and advanced on the instructor, with the knife blade tucked against his forearm so he could slash with impunity.
With a “deer in the headlights” facial expression, the instructor tried to save face by sputtering, “You dumb old hillbilly! Sit back down! Somebody who knows how to hold a knife come up here and attack me!”
So the raw recruit was revealing things that made someone uncomfortable. Alas, even those who put in multiple tours of duty can still be unwelcome.
While preparing this column, I asked veteran Terry Lowe of Marshall County, Tenn., (who sent 18 months in a tank in Vietnam and whose father was with Dwight Eisenhower’s army all the way from Normandy Beach to Berlin) what he would like to tell my readership for Veterans Day.
Although he threw in some colorful details about backroom deals and sniper attacks, the short answer was “Don’t ever forget.”
A simple request, but one we often find hard to carry out.
To a large extent, we wish veterans would stay “out of sight, out of mind” and not inconvenience us with reminders of their sacrifice or lessons learned from the school of hard knocks.