Veterans' Day

The plight of the returning war veteran isn’t a particularly new theme — really, it’s as old as war itself — but it’s an enduring one. And Tom Cole’s harrowing 1976 play Medal of Honor Rag, based on the true story of a black Vietnam vet, remains vital on a universal level unhindered by time, place and sociology. Barbara Thayer of the nonprofit Association for Retention of Cultural Heritages (ARCH) thinks it’s a great vehicle for sparking recognition of one of society’s harshest hidden ills. “I was searching for a theatrical piece that would speak to the magnitude of difficulty and the significance of the problems veterans face after they return home from active duty,” Thayer explains.

She found it with Medal of Honor Rag, which opens at 2 p.m. today at Su Teatro @ the Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive, for a run through November 7. “The veteran, in a very terrible and yet interesting way, is at the nexus of social predicaments we all face: health, education, housing, employment-related things. These are all of the basic predicaments of our contemporary American universe,” she says. “By taking the opportunity to use that as a starting point, we hope to get people talking about it a lot. “They’ll see some fantastic acting and a powerful and moving yet legitimate form of entertainment that’s not a diatribe or a case of proselytizing on a cause,” Thayer continues. “What theater can do better than many other media is encourage that intimate relationship with a topic through identification with characters. Audiences can be drawn into the circumstances and world of a living, real person with predicaments they will recognize and care about.”

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance by e-mailing or calling 303-296-0219.
Sundays, 2 p.m.; Nov. 5-6, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Oct. 24. Continues through Nov. 7, 2010

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Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged, a certain look in the eye.Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.You can't tell a vet just by looking.      


What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuelHe is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.


He is the POW who went away one person and came back another- or didn't come back AT ALL.He is the drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks, gang members, and mothers boys into soldiers, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.He is the career logistician who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by. He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket -palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come. What is a vet?He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SERVICE!".