We All Remember Differently

1 Jun

So Monday, I took me and the kids out to the cemetery to attend our Memorial Day service. It’s always been important to me; truly, it is the holiest day in our American civil religion.

This is not meant as a pejorative–I believe we need a belief that our nation can be greater than the people who live here. I’m a Navy brat; my father and his father both served in the Navy, and I’ve known many people who left to serve and never came back. I believe that their sacrifice needs to be honored.

My wife disagrees; when I invited her, she refused. She doesn’t believe that we should honor their sacrifice. Our country sent our men and women under false pretenses for selfish gains. To support these ceremonies is continue the lie. And this didn’t surprise me. Her father and his father were both university professors; both medically disqualified from being drafted.

But the beauty of America is that you can hold two conflicting viewpoints at the same time. I can agree; many of the wars that America fought in have been ill conceived, selfish, and good men and women died for those mistakes. The strongest anti-war messages I’ve heard are from veterans. However, you can honor the man who died, not the reason they died. In Arizona, we honor Pat Tillman, an NFL player who left the league on 9/11 to volunteer for the Army Rangers. He died in Afghanistan because of friendly fire. And yet, we name charities after him, a Legion post after him, and scholarships in his name.

We need people who volunteer; people who are willing to serve something greater than themselves. We don’t ask people to believe blindly. My own Legion post is named after a man who dove on a grenade to save his own platoon in Iraq. Jim was on his third tour, he drank Pabst Blue Ribbon and loved a good joke–he had also been in country for over a year and had seen the destruction that had been inflicted in Iraq. Jim knew when he saw a grenade thrown his way that he could have ducked. He could have gotten out of the way, but only at the cost of his brothers-in-arms’ life. He couldn’t live knowing he could have saved the men he served with. So he was honored with the Silver Star.

His father could have been bitter about that; I’m sure he grieved and was angry at the US Army for putting him in harm’s way. But he was also a veteran, so when his friends said, “Hey, we’re starting a new post, could we name it after your son?” He not only said yes, he serves (and continues to serve) as an officer in the post.

That’s what we need to honor on Memorial Day; the sacrifice. Yes, the United States have sent out soldiers to die on foreign fields for facetious reasons. But you don’t want a country where people aren’t willing to serve and possibly die. A country full of selfish, rather than selfless people, is a country that will cease to exist.

One Response to “We All Remember Differently”

  1. Silk Cords June 3, 2022 at 5:19 am #

    Great post 🙂

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