When I was a kid, Veteran's Day was about tagging along with my parents to a few memorial services around our county.
When I was a kid, my brother and I used to make pretend that we owned a radio station. He would be the DJ, and I was the weather girl [my line in every 'show' was: You want the weather? Look out the window!].
It's different now.
Now, my brother is a Marine [veteran, bracketed because I get the distinct impression that once you're a Marine, you're always a Marine, active service or not]. He saw combat in Afghanistan, his boat being deployed there from Australia moments after the September 11 attacks.
He's different now.
Now, my brother is racked with memories he can't talk about. Now, he struggles with alcohol [even though he would beg to differ]. Now, he wants his life back the way it was before the war, before the combat.
Life's different now.
Since he's been home, he's been married. And divorced.
He's been to the funeral of his best friend [killed in combat days after he was finally sent home]. And held my newborn son.
He's lived in California. And New York.
He's worked for the family business. And not worked for the family business.
He's been jovial. And depressed.
But mostly? He's been different.
Veteran's Day now, for me, isn't about ceremonies and Taps and a day off from school anymore. It's about remembering that as frustrating, talented, infuriating, charming, awful and wonderful as my brother is, he's even more than that.
He's a Veteran.