My grandfather was in the Civil War. My father, but for a weird freak accident, was supposed to have shipped out to WWI as a flier, but by the time he recovered, the war was over. But his interest in flying remained, and he did a lot of hush-hush work for the military during WWII. My brother joined the Navy late in the war, at 17, and never saw combat.
But my mother's high school boyfriend was there in the beginning. He died at Pearl Harbor.
A friends's father chilled my bones with his stories of kamakazi attacks on his aircraft carrier.
A parcel of my friends were in 'Nam. One guy has more medals than you can shake a stick at. He never talks about them, or his time there. One friend, whose picture is in the Smithsonian collection, a scrawny kid looking fed up, was in 'Nam in the beginning, when we were still "advisors."
Another friend was disabled for life in a grenade attack in a place we weren't, doing activities we never did. Enough said.
May we never forget any of these, no matter who or when or how... And remember that last shot, of the 11th day of the 11th month.