In honor of Veterans Day, we asked Flashlight author and US Army Major Thad Krasnesky to share some of his thoughts on being a children’s author and on serving in the military. This is the first in a series of posts from our authors, illustrators, and other Flashlight folk on the holidays.
by: Thad Krasnesky
Veterans Day is a wonderful time here at West Point. Although any holiday celebrating the soldier cannot be far removed from the more serious side of the occupation, it is a much less solemn occasion than Memorial Day. Veterans Day is a celebration of life and a remembrance of victory. More importantly for the soldier, it commemorates the end of war. Although some people think that soldiers long for war, this is simply not the case. There are violent people in any occupation. Certainly there are some among the ranks of the soldier. The true soldier however, the one who practices the profession of arms and is not simply a hired gun, longs for peace. Douglas Macarthur, a West Point graduate and a leader of character once said, “The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” Dwight Eisenhower, another West Point graduate and distinguished leader said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.” Veterans Day remembers that moment in time, when soldiers on both sides of the line in WWI were able to lay down their weapons. The day that they said, “This many deaths, but no more.”
Some people find it odd to reconcile the image of a children’s writer with the image that they have of a soldier. I love being able to create that conflict in people’s minds. It gives me an opportunity to emphasize the versatile nature of the soldier and it forces people to reevaluate their stereotypes. Some people wonder if writing is my escape from being a soldier. No more so than soldiering is my escape from being a writer. They are both who I am. Two facets of a many-faceted personality. One is not an escape from the other. I can be both without excluding the other. Most of us, most soldiers, are that way. We are more than simply one-dimensional images. We are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives. We are founding families and immigrants. We are conservative and liberal, religious and agnostic, scholars and clowns. We are midwest farmers, west coast activists, southern belles, and urban rappers. Everything that you can possibly imagine, anyone that you have ever known, that is us. We are you.
I am going to enjoy this Veterans Day with my family. On Thursday we will probably go to the mall, possibly go out to dinner, and maybe even see a movie. There are many during this time of conflict that will not be able to do so. At times I have been one of them but not this year. This year I am home. Veterans Day to me is all about home. And it is about hope. We may be at war now but Veterans Day is a promise that there will be an end. Maybe not this Thursday. Maybe not even a year from Thursday. But someday. Someday they will say, “Well done, it is time to go home.” Someday they will say, “This many deaths, but no more.” Veterans Day is that promise. It is a celebration of life. I hope that this Thursday you will celebrate it with us.