Why I Don’t Say Happy Memorial Day

Well, good morning, everyone!  Hope you all had a less crazy weekend than I did.  Alright, the weekend wasn’t crazy outside the digital sphere – minus getting a little too excited about Olive Garden’s stuffed mushroom appetizer and letting the roof of my mouth pay the price.  Seriously.  Boiling cheesy goodness with the fury of a lava-filled cauldron of doom.  The right side is still tender, but at least I haven’t taken pain-killer yet.  On to the crazy, mostly because it got me thinking.  See, a gorilla died after a toddler fell into a zoo enclosure, *spoilers* Steve Rogers is an agent of Hydra, and the Baptist pastor who set out to learn about transgender people sent me a follow up post yesterday morning.  and being wished a Happy Memorial Day sent it all into a tailspin.

And I realized I only cared about one of them.

Not the gorilla.  I’d never heard of him until now, and I’ll leave the opinions to informed folk like Jack Hanna.

Not Captain America, though Stan Lee seems to like the idea.

And I’ll be honest, not Memorial Day this year, either.  It’s become a confused mess of memes and the one Happy Memorial Day wish I got made me wonder when Memorial Day became Christmas.

Since when is a day set a side to remember those who died on the battlefield happy? I’m confused.

I guess that’s the real gist of this post.  I’m confused.  Confused by a day of remembrance where it’s okay to plaster I’m better at remembering than you because reasons memes all over social media, then go to a family barbecue anyway.  Confused by the idea that to remember those who died so that we might enjoy the freedom to celebrate freedom at all, we must mourn without context.  Very few of us have lost kin in battle in the modern United States of America.  Those of you that have, and are reading this, my heart goes out to you.  It is a pain I do not truly know or comprehend.  None of us without the experience can.  Yet I can understand, in small ways, why they went.  Not all of them, but some.  Those with minds similar to mine.

Love.

Honor.

Both reasons I chose not to years ago, actually.  My junior year of high school, our high school had us all take the ASVAB, an aptitude test issued by all military branches.  I scored a 98, I think?  Can’t remember exactly.  I do know that every recruiter I spoke to after that, when they heard the score, told me I could have any job I wanted, in any branch of service.  Except growing up with my grandfather as an example, I knew a few things for certain.

1. I had to know WHY I fought.  Joining the military wasn’t enough.  An effective warrior needs a reason.  And frankly, every warrior has a different reason.  Some do it for love of country.  Others for love of freedom.  Others, as I learned from a dead, fictional Frenchman from a science fiction disaster flick, for love of family.  After all, not everyone is cut out to try and save the world.  But we can all find three people we love that much.  For Serge, it was his wife and two daughters.

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It’s not as compelling without full context, but it’s a concept that’s stuck with me.  Whatever the reason, it’s gotta be one that’ll keep you going through the middle of hell, because that’s exactly what a battlefield is, and war is several of them, strung together, and it only ends when the politicians or the brass say it does.

2.  It’s not a way out.  I didn’t come from a spectacularly stable home.  If you’ve been following the blog the last few months, you’ve likely figured that out.  If you’ve known me longer, you know that already.  When I started talking to recruiters, I wanted a way out, but I remembered the stories.  Shot down 200 miles behind enemy lines.  Walking out of China on foot.  Flying 48 combat missions with the Green Dragons, when the survival rate was half that.  My grandfather was a hell of a man.  I’ve modeled aspects of myself on what I remember of him.  After all, you don’t soon forget someone who can command a room simply by entering it.  He taught me that the flag was more than just a piece of cloth on a stick.  That the revolutionaries who fought with our Founding Fathers fought and died so that flag might stand billowing for all to see as a protection of freedom.  He taught me that our military men and women stand with the ideals of that flag, and the ideals of the office of Commander in Chief, more than they ever support any single man or woman in that office.  He taught me what it means to be a soldier, and running from problems is not one of those things.  So I didn’t.

3.  Where was my loyalty?  My country?  My family?  My God?  Again, I thought back to my grandfather.  His priority list was God first, then family, then country.  At the time, mine was don’t like family, confused by my country, and God’s abandoned me.  However, my grandfather’s example remained a constant before his passing years prior.  In the end, I did not join the military.  Since then I’ve realized that, for a variety of reasons, I’d likely end up medically disqualified anyway.

In closing, I suppose we all view love and honor differently, and we all view Memorial Differently.  I know today’s post rambled a bit.  It’s been that kind of morning.  Just remember, we all remember differently.

 

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1 Response

  1. Jess Mahler says:

    Memorial Day tends to pass in a blur for me. I’m not one for barbecues on a day of remembrance, but I don’t actually much remembering either. Veteran’s Day tends to hit home more. As you say, I don’t know anyone who died in a war. But I know and have known many veterans, starting with two of my grandfathers, continuing through my surrogate father, and most recently some friends and my siblings, who have been soldiers. Some managed to avoid the worst aspects of war, others were damaged by it for the rest of their lives.

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