Remembering Veteran’s Day


Massimo Rigoli

Interviewer Massimo Rigoli and World War II veteran Anthony “Tony” J. Glaser alongside old pictures of the veteran. In this interview, the two discussed the opinions, experience, and memories that Mr Glaser has formed over the years.

On Veteran’s Day we celebrate veterans, but it is not often that we hear their stories and perspective on being a veteran. In order to get a better understanding, I spoke with veterans who lived in the retirement home Vi at La Jolla Village, which has over 50 veterans dating as far back as WWII and the Vietnam and Korean War.

I had the privilege of speaking with five veterans, Howard Golden, Vietnam War; Joe Denver McCune, Korean and Vietnam War; Mary “Casey” K. Meehan, Vietnam War; Anthony “Tony” J. Glaser, WWII & Korean War; and Leonard Kreisman, WWII. While each of them had unique experiences, a common theme emerged as I spoke to them — the veterans each fought different wars, and yet were all aware of the public perception of their involvements.

“At the end of WWII the public was most appreciative of whatever was done during WWII. There was great support in the country for the US participation in WWII. It was a lot different than it ended up being for Vietnam and Korea both…I think there was much less support for both of those struggles than there was for WWII,” Kreisman said.

The US has been involved in many conflicts, and they each have a different place in the American psyche. However, that being said, we can learn something valuable from each of these wars. And each veteran shared similar sentiments about their experience in the war. I noticed they were proud of the camaraderie they had with their fellow soldiers, and many of them were humble when talking about action and experience. For the most part, they did not seem interested in giving attention to themselves, but more towards the soldiers who fought alongside them.

“Well, if you’re looking for information about ‘the war or wars’ I think you’re gonna find that most of the people you interview won’t talk too much about it and the reason that they won’t is there is not much to say about a war. It’s not a good thing, there is nobody there who would say ‘boy this is a lot of fun’. There’s nobody who’s going to tell you the reasons why or why they were not there or what they thought of the war, it was just serving their country,” Golden said. None of the veterans I spoke with were interested in counting medals, they just thought they were the lucky ones who made it home.

Interestingly, each of them had unique reasons for why they joined the military–some of them were drafted, others because it was the patriotic thing to do, and some felt it was a good way to earn some money and see the world. “I joined the Navy to see the world and serve my country as a nurse. It all came through.” Meehan said.

Whatever their original intent when joining the military, they all seemed to come out with a sense of pride and lifelong relationships. In fact, they were also all consistent in that they had no regrets about serving in the war and felt proud about it, they all seemed to recommend it to others who may feel a desire to do so.

“I would say serving your country’s a good thing, instead of criticizing your country, I think you owe something to your country,” Golden said.

None of the veterans were necessarily saying that people had to join the military, but they did feel that it is good for people to serve their country in any shape or form. One thing that surprised me, was they all shared their views on the state of the world today, and most of them were concerned.

“Our country today is not the united country that it used to be. And I feel very bad about that. We have … we used to be all one country… all united. Yeah there were democrats and republicans but look at it today. Something comes up in the congress … all the democrats vote one way all the republicans vote the other way … it’s not … it’s disunited,” Glaser said.

It seems several of them felt the United States was less unified compared to their time, the political discussions are too polarizing. They seemed concerned about young people not being healthy, educated, or interested in joining the military, which could be viewed as a longtime risk for the country.

It was encouraging that all these individuals were willing to take time out of their Saturday to discuss their experiences. Each one of these veterans took the time to meet me and were very generous in sharing their experiences. It made me think that young people should spend more time speaking to their elders because it is worth the time for both parties.

This Veteran’s Day, it might be worth speaking to anyone you know who has served in the military to see what unique experiences they might share with you.