Veterans' Day...

As a combat veteran of the US Army's Vietnam campaign, this is always a pretty rough few days for me, remembering friends and family I've lost over the years in defense of this great country.

For a few years in the mid- and late-1980's, I was the stage announcer for the Vet's Day Parades in downtown STL. I was the guy who provided unit information for the passing parade and the occasional quip to the assembled Generals, Admirals and political mucketymucks who sat on the reviewing stage around me.

One of those years, the Grand Marshall of the parade was the man who had been my ultimate boss in Vietnam, US Army General William Westmoreland. I was introduced to him, shook his hand, and was nervous as hell about it all. Shoot, I had been just a Sergeant E-5 serving under his four stars all those years ago. I was WAY down the food chain. I had even almost spilled a bunch of food and drinks on his successor (US Army General Creighton Abrams) in the halls of MACV in Saigon (another story, another time). And even decades later it was still intimidating to be near The Man.

The parade progressed and for a long time, I read aloud on the loudspeaker system from the pages of the notebook I had been given, describing the active military and historic units as they passed before us. Then the dogs came up...

These were Military Police dogs, mostly German Shepherds, from an MP unit based at Ft. Leonard Wood. Thoroughly trained dogs, handled and cared for by career soldiers. The picture at left gives you an idea of their training. They did EXACTLY what they were told to do and ONLY what they were told to do. Security and obedience was their mission and their life. A great pack of dogs.

I looked at the dogs, accompanied by their trainers. A whole platoon of them, five wide, marching down the street in front of me, on their leashes in front of their trainers/handlers.

Good dogs, I thought, Just like mine, I thought.

Bet they'd respond to the same commands mine do, I thought.

So over the amplifer I said "Sit."

And they did. Every single dog did what he/she was told. They all sat down. Right in the middle of the street. All of the highly trained, crime-fighting German Shepherds sat their butts right down in front of the reviewing stand.

The handlers had no idea what had caused this but they figured it out pretty quickly and moved their exhibit on.

General Westmoreland laughed his ass off.

I made by boss from back then laugh...