Today is Veterans Day, when we honor those who have served. The WSJ has an interesting article up today on a group of veterans that are often neglected: those of the Cold War.
This weekend, Americans will honor soldiers who fought the country’s wars, from the Somme to Kandahar. In Manassas, Va., 30 miles from the nation’s capital, a parade on Saturday will honor veterans of another big war: the one that never happened.
The Cold War, from 1945 to the Soviet Union’s breakup in 1991, was all about avoiding total nuclear war. It turned hot in Korea and Vietnam and sparked conflicts from Lebanon to Grenada. But soldiers on duty between flare-ups didn’t do battle. When the war that wasn’t came to an end, they got no monuments, no victory medals.
Nor can they join the American Legion—which makes the parade of Cold War vets in Manassas a minor hot spot of its own.
The Cold War erupted into two major conflict in Vietnam and Korea. But for many, it was an undeclared quiet war, without parades or victories or medals; only casualties. But the millions and men and women who, sometimes figuratively sometimes literally, stood on the wall against the encroachment of one the greatest evils in human history should not be forgotten. The only reason the Cold War did not erupt into a shooting war in central Europe was because they stood on that wall, rifle in hand, tank manned, missiles ready to fly — letting the Soviet Union know that not a step would be taken into the free nations of the world without a price.
I know we have veterans who read this blog, including some who served in shooting wars. Today is the day we set aside to remember and thank them not just for the freedom we enjoy, but for the peace we enjoyed. The ones who fought in Vietnam and Korea shed real blood and all too many made the supreme sacrifice. But those who stood on that wall for almost half a century did their part too, making sure that war stayed as cold as it did. Had they not, it’s likely all of us would be somewhere quite warm right now.