Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tomorrow is not National Barbeque Day

Happy Memorial Day. Originally called "Decoration Day" this holiday is a day to remember those who have fallen while serving the US Armed Forces. It is not National Barbeque Day.

I don't have the nerve to do what soldiers do. I have heard so many stories but a photo like this brings so many emotions to bear. 

For all those who suit up, swallow fear when necessary, travel to locations as far away as physically and emotionally possible, who sleep in dirt bunkers, walk into the unknown, kiss their families and their babies goodbye for maybe a year at a time, who don't have the luxury of complaining about how long the line is for the morning latte, or the traffic, or the fact an emergency news brief interrupted the season finale of Scandal, we salute you.

I don't want miss my son's baseball games, or friends birthdays, my morning workouts or trips to Anguilla.  I want the freedom and the critical steps that need to be executed to protect it but I am not brave enough to do it. I would be if I had to be but that is one additional amazing component of our country: I don't have to go to war if I don't want to sign up for it. My freedom is protected by hundreds of thousands of other people. The blanket of freedom that not only allows but encourages women to become educated, make choices, vote, buy a home, live where you choose.

This is the same freedom which allows people to openly criticize our government and our leaders. Criticism that in other countries would earn you beatings or life in an underground prison or death. Those people should thank the next person they see in uniform for protecting your right to free speech. PS: Do you know who really cares if you like or don't like Barack? Or George W. ? Or Mitt?  Or Hillary?  I don't know the exact metrics but my guess is: NOT Barack, George W., Mitt, Hillary and 95% of people you are friends with on Facebook.

While we are all enjoying our Memorial weekend, it is a weekend of gratitude. Gratitude for freedoms. These are freedoms paid for by other people. Love my country? Yes. Willing to suit up and die for it? Wait a minute. I think we all want to think we would do it. It is an easy supposition to make from the comfort of my living room. Bravo to the hundreds of thousands of men and women have committed to serving; many of them so young they have likely never left home, lived on their own, had sex, or had a legal cocktail before. But the majority of them willing to go even knowing  what kind of environment they could be deployed to in the very near-term. 

Thank you to not only everyone who signed the dotted line but to their families as well who surely endured trials during the absence. God Bless the USA.


Slamdunk said...

Well said. Sadly, it is one of those holidays that the true meaning gets lost. Thanks to all those who have given their lives while serving, so that I can live in freedom.

joanne said...

amen to that.

the walking man said...

Jenny Mac

As a veteran (USN'72-'75), I never went to war, until I came home. Saigon was on the verge of falling when I was discharged in a draw down. There though was still enough of the late '60s early '70s animosity left over to feel the heat from people I grew up with who never could understand why I would enlist at 17, instead of use my fathers money to go to college.

In the past 40 years I have come to know many veterans who came back to much worse abuse than I, not only were our peers still angry about the war and Watergate; they had no real and tangible target for that animosity other than them who were drafted or enlisted. After all the Defense Department was not going to make itself available for the brass or SecDef to be scorned.

But the real tragedy for combat veterans especially, was the neglect they suffered at the hands of the government they served. My God, 23 years before they even recognized that the defoliant Agent Orange was causing cancer in veterans and birth defects in their children, PTSD was something only cowards suffered from so there was no psychological help.

No other class of veterans made up such a large, disenfranchised number of homeless, as those who fought my generations war in Vietnam, especially them from '63-'72.

Although statistically the Korean War was much more violent and the American body count much higher by percentages (33,000 dead in 3.7 years)they came home to silence, not animosity. The Korean vets I know still break my heart for that silence, and lack of kinship with the WWII vets ("You only tied in Korea, We won our war")

Personally JennyMac I for one hope Minimac is the first generation in human history to not have war to fight, there are enough graveyards throughout the world with all of the nations of the worlds war dead.

Almost to a person those who served would not do anything different, even those who died in what they believe was a righteous cause. And I say that about those we called enemies as well.

Though I did not shoot, I had to over come fears aplenty, as does every military person, from the big mean SOB in boot camp who makes your life miserable to them who went to Germany or Korea during the cold wars never knowing if that truce would hold for another day.

I learned in the military to not fear the ocean, not in smooth nor rough 40 foot seas,and I will always look back at that time of my youth as something special. A time where even though I was no longer accepted among them I grew up with; I was fully accepted by them I served aboard the Myles Fox DD 829.

Thank you Jenny, thank you from my brothers and sisters no longer able to say it for themselves and thank you from every living veteran, you have it right, your statement of thanks and your confidence is appreciated.

Be Well All Mac's