Skip to content

Memorial Day ~ Repost

May 30, 2011

I wrote this last Memorial Day… still seems fitting, sadly. I think all the links still work, even if the articles, etc, are a little out of date…

So. This one will be really out of character but… oh well.

Veer Photography

This morning, I am not out BBQ-ing or sitting on the beach. I’m not traveling to visit friends or family.

I’m in my office. Playing catch-up. Of course.

I open my e-mail and have a forward from the joint e-mail account of one of my best friends from HS and her husband (yeah… joint e-mail accounts… for another time…)

It is titled “Memorial Day” and includes many cartoons, with some text.

You get the idea.

I am not entirely sure how I feel about this holiday. I mean… on one hand, I am irritated that most Americans see it as just another day off of work for enjoying summer. I guess this is one way to “celebrate” it, but I doubt they take all that much time to think about why we have it off in the first place.

On the other hand…

Is war really the price of freedom? Are the lives of young men and women really what we must pay for the “American” way of life? For our rights of free religion, speech, press, assembly, etc etc etc (in theory at least)?

Are the wars we’ve fought, and are still fighting, really what is necessary to keep Americans “free”? To keep us… safe?

I don’t know.

Sometimes – sure. I can see that. But… the conflicts (such a simple term) since, and including, Vietnam? Really?

Honestly… I don’t buy it. I just don’t.

My HS best friend’s husband is ex-military. Their marriage was not attended by friends and family because they ended up getting hitched quick – he was shipped to Iraq. The first time. His tour was extended from six to eight months that trip. He came home. My HS BFF got pregnant. He was shipped out again.

She miscarried, alone and in a new city, while he was in Iraq for the second time, where this time, six months became a year.

It’s the greater issues, as well. It is the increase in mental problems and suicide in veterans today. It is the fact that people are more likely to survive warfare today, but come home without legs or arms. It is the lack of actual support for our troops, in terms of medical and psychological care. It is the idea of a back-door draft. It is the assumption that we know what is best for another society and culture, and that we use bullets to bring it to them.

If you can get a hold of this article , “A war of disabilities: Iraq’s hidden costs are coming home” ~ R. J. Glasser, Harper’s Magazine August 12th, 2005 – read it.

It is the things we don’t talk about… and the things we don’t remember.

It is also the hypocrisy and ignorance. The fact that some people decide being a “patriot” and “supporting our troops” means shutting the F up and deciding the government knows what’s best. It means not asking questions, not challenging the very idea of sending American’s youth to fight, die, or just come home maimed and/or suicidal. The idea that somehow wanting a war to end is… unpatriotic.

I realize this was (I say this hopefully) a larger problem with the past administration. However… even when we do discuss the current situation, we are still ignoring the mental toll of war on our young men and women.

And the fact that we don’t often understand, support, or even address the issues they return with.

Of course, that’s not even getting into the fact that the less fortunate and less white among us overwhelming carry this burden.

These are the things that make this holiday a little difficult for me. The messages that ask us to remember, like the e-mail from my friends, often leave a bad taste in my mouth because of everything else, even while I tear up a little (oh hush – they succeed on some level ok).

But then… I think perhaps it doesn’t matter that I don’t believe we’re fighting the good fight any more. Maybe the fact that I no longer believe these… conflicts are what keeps me “free” and “safe” is not the point.

What matters is that those men and women believed that. Or that, outwardly or in their hearts, that’s why they are doing this. That was the reason they made this sacrifice. The true cause for conflict, and whether their lives were truly necessary, may not be important when we try and save this day for them.

And maybe they don’t believe it… but they fight any way.

It’s very sad that I have this thought process, when what I think about the powers that be and the battles we fight really should have no bearing on the men and women who have served, do serve, and will serve. It should not keep me from remembering, and from recognizing what they have done and will do.

Happy Memorial Day.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2011 10:26 am

    Remembering and honouring the men and women who faught and died for their country is important. But it is also important not to march blindly with everyone else. If people do not question the “why”… why this happened and why they were sent out then we are in dangerous territory. I do believe that it is people’s resposibility to question their elected leaders and the decisions they make as the decisions affect all.

    Either way, I hope you have a nice day off. 😉

    • June 1, 2011 8:48 am

      Exactly. Isn’t that a big part of the whole “freedom” and “democracy” thing, anyway? I just don’t understand how some Americans think protesting a freakin’ war is “unpatriotic”. When we don’t even really know why we’re there or how we’re helping…. and helping *what* is not always clear either.

      Of course, part of the problem is ignorance, and the assumption that everyone else in the world is just like you.

  2. Simone permalink
    May 31, 2011 11:49 am

    Well said, my dear. You know how I feel about these things (all those WWI memorials in France….for instance). I think you’ve done a great job of raising some of the nuanced issues associated with soldier and war. I really dislike the phrase “Support our Troops” and its context “you can hate the war but support our troops.” No. That is a backdoor way for you to get me to say that I am *okay* with this bullshit. I am not. I support veteran services. I support realizing that soldiers come home with scars far deeper and subconscious than we will ever see. I support treatment for those who do come home with the phsyical marks of battles. But do I support sending them to receive these scars? No, I don’t. And, that’s a tough thing to say to someone.

    Because at the same time I realize that one of the reasons we can enforce sanctions (besides our (maybe previous now) economic power) is because we can put the walk where the talk is if it comes down to a military fight. And, therefore, I must appreciate the people who will go do the walking, right? But when do we overreact? Can I safely say we’ve massively overreacted in the past 10 years? What do I know?

    I don’t.

    • June 1, 2011 8:53 am

      I agree – and yes, some people do not see the distinction there. Nor are they, apparently, willing to engage discussion over why we send men and women to fight in the first place – which, in my eyes, should be the very least we can do to support them (i.e. evaluate the reasons why to even send them in the first place.)

      Your second point is well taken, however. There is something to be said for backing our shit up, or else how are we taken seriously? And can *we* safely say we’ve overreacted? You’re right – I don’t know. I want to say YES FUCKING YES but… and then, of course, is the idea that we get all involved in other places because it’s in *our* best interest, or because *we* think it makes sense… and when we fuck it up instead and piss people off, then we wonder why? Yeah. About that.

  3. May 31, 2011 12:32 pm

    Sigh. I can’t even tell you how much respect i have for anyone associated with the military.

    it is the ultimate sacrifice. their families, they sacrifice just as much.

    I get teary eyed every time i see a pic, hear a story, or anything… i don’t know how people can forget them so easily.

    • June 1, 2011 8:55 am

      That is, of course, the flip side. The fact that we (or at least me) have to separate how I feel about the American government asking these men and women, and their families, to make those sacrifices from the people who actually do the sacrificing. It is absolutely possible, and I don’t understand the people who can’t see that – and think I am a “whiny bitch” because I am not ok with what we’re doing (and can tell you why, dammit).

      And the fact that we DO forget them. Far, far too easily.

  4. May 31, 2011 2:16 pm

    These pics remind me of a picture where I work. It’s of a young soldier, sleeping on top of a vehicle. That’s his “home.”

    • June 1, 2011 8:56 am

      Exactly. :*(

  5. June 1, 2011 12:11 am

    I have very strong convictions concerning much of what you said. Much in the same way you have 3 Facebook pages, I do too. The PC one for FeistyWoman, and I have my completely separate ape shit political crap shoot personal page. I also have the PC image I maintain on Twitter. It’s pretty easy to offend a lot of people politically- I have found that out.

    However, you and I are pretty much on the same page.

    May 30th was my father’s birthday. That’s about all the significance I tie to Memorial Day without having to get too upset. Sad state of affairs this country is in right now. That’s all I’m going to say.

    • June 1, 2011 8:58 am

      Sometimes it is important to keep political views separate – and I think that blows. I think we should be able to be vocal about things, the problem is you piss off people that way, and they are more interested in yelling than in discussing. Big difference there: one is frustrating and a waste of time and energy, the other is not.

  6. Esme permalink
    June 1, 2011 6:03 pm

    I met some amazing guys in my class earlier this year. Most of them absolutely believe they are fighting for a greater good. My thoughts? I think they need to believe they are risking their lives for something greater than themselves. Because then what is it all for?

    I have always respected the women and men who fight in the military. After seeing things I never should have, and hearing stories that I will never repeat, I have even more respect then I did before. (I played ‘war games’, and I think I have PTSD…)

    • June 2, 2011 10:05 am

      I can only imagine….

      The thing is, I wish I could say with confidence that our government was doing the right thing in sending them over seas….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: