Thank You Admiral Zumwalt
On Veterans’ Day, Americans everywhere will pause to reflect on the many men and women who served in our military. Amidst white-capped tombstones, there will be ceremonies marking the nearly 42 million people who lost their lives during one of America’s wars. There will also be ceremonies for our living veterans – almost 22 million strong.
We bow our heads to every man and woman, living or killed in battle, who ever faced down the enemy to protect the freedom we enjoy today.
But we also bow heads to those who faced down less obvious enemies as a result of their military service. Chief among these was Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the American naval officer who served as Chief of Naval Operations during the Vietnam War.
While Zumwalt survived decades of high ranking naval service, where he encountered and ultimately prevailed over countless threats, he later succumbed to a danger so microscopically finite that the human eye cannot even see it: asbestos.
Sadly, Admiral Zumwalt was exposed to asbestos on various Navy ships and, like many veterans who served from World War II through the Vietnam, developed asbestos’ “signature” cancer, mesothelioma.
While we do not know precisely how many veterans survived battlefields only to be felled later by asbestos-related mesothelioma, we do know that there were too many.
And they, along with Admiral Zumwalt, deserve every accolade afforded to those who died on the battlefields.