"The title of my post is a little inaccurate. Today used to be Armistice Day to commemorate the end of the Great War, but after the sequel made its debut in 1937, 1939 or 1941 (depending on which side you were on), the day was renamed and given a different flavor.
Still, my plan is to out and honor the old tradition of playing "Taps" at 11 a.m. today. I hurt my foot the other night, so I'm not looking forward to putting my uniform and boots on.
The other day at my Guard unit I was looking at some captains talking together and they noticed my gaze. One of them asked what I was thinking.
I gestured to them. "I was thinking about how you are the future leaders of our unit." They smiled and nodded.
And then I continued: "And I was wondering how long until I can retire."
It was funny, but it had the additional virtue of being true. Our unit is evolving over time. We stood up in 2009 - a mismatched assortment of individuals from all over the place trying to figure out our job while working in a condemned building.
Now we are about to undergo our second change of command in our purpose-built facility. I personally have gone from a junior NCO to a senior one. With the latest round of retirements, I'm officially part of the Old Guard.
The United States was involved in World War I for less than two years. My great-grandfather was one of those shipped overseas and he arrived in time to take part in the last Allied push. He then got to stay as part of the Army of Occupation for almost a year. His letters tell of the low morale of those troops and how desperately they wanted to go home and get on with their lives.
The present war has lasted 16 years and there's no end in sight. It may well come to pass that I will reach retirement age before it's over. I'd like to stay with it until it's over, but who knows?
In a sense, the war that started in 1914 is still raging. The war we have today has its origins in the decisions made in 1919. Maybe my generation will finally sort them out.