I almost took Friday off. Classes at MSU-Billings were out for Veterans Day, and I've always wanted a Veterans Day off sometime before I died. It's been 32 years, so I thought I'd better grab one while I could. Until now, it's always seemed like the real reason I served my country was so bankers and post office workers could get another day off in November.
It wasn't quite a full day off. I graded some papers, washed dishes and straightened the house. But I didn't go the office or check e-mail, and I did watch a Marx Brothers movie, play some bridge, stretch out in the hot tub and cook a rice casserole with Andouille sausage. Mighty tasty.
Mike Royko was the first pundit I knew of who argued that veterans should always get Veterans Day off, and I have taken up the call from time to time. Consider my own case, not because I'm especially deserving but because I am about as undeserving as veterans come. Few people had easier duty than I did: Fifty-six weeks learning German in lovely Monterey, Calif., short stints in Missouri and Texas, then a year and change working four day shifts and drinking beer and Jaegermeister on the East German border. I had it made.
Still, it was three years of my misspent life, mostly in an atmosphere uncongenial to a guy who hates wearing uniforms and taking orders. If I live to be 80, and were to get every Veterans Day off, I would still get back less than two months of my 36-month enlistment. Is that too much to ask? And if it's not too much for me to ask, then why not for the millions of guys who actually paid a heavy price in service of their country? Aren't they as worthy as bankers?