Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial for whom?

I have never been in the military, but my family is essentially a peace-loving family of veterans.

In my work, we do a lot of work on behalf of vets who come back with mental health issues - who the hell wouldn't, after being sleep-deprived in a combat zone? - so I have learned more about my own family.

My grandfather, who lied about his age so he could fight the Nazis in World War II, still sleeps with the light on. He probably doesn't know what PTSD is, but he would wake up screaming with nightmares about the war when my dad was a kid.

For a bunch of liberals, we have quite the military history: my great-grandfather also lied about his age to join the Navy at age 15 (this is the same great-grandfather who captured Baby Face Nelson when he was a volunteer sheriff, and organized the Milwaukee Railroad - I come from a long line of people much braver than me), and his grandfather fought on the Union side in the Civil War.

I have interviewed vets and been in awe of their courage.

I have talked to my father very seldom about Vietnam The most he would say was, "Some of my friends did not come back."

This half of the family was very pro-troops and anti-Iraq war, while the other half, who are a bunch of alligator-hunting Republicans (I'm serious - check out this post) with nary a service member, were all for it and probably wet their pants when Obama won the election.

I think it is disgraceful how little we, as a government as a country, do for those who risk life and limb for us.

Even those who come back in one piece do not necessarily come back whole. We need to provide adequate mental and physical health care for our vets.

Equally disgraceful, in my opinion, is how this has turned into a "holiday" weekend, full of white sales and drunk drivers and parties.

Mr. RK and I spent the day with a friend whose family fled Russia because of religious persecution; I think they have a lot better appreciation of what "freedom" means than the rest of us.


Scarlet said...

Having left Cuba at 2 (without the folks) I can appreciate the meaning behind Memorial Day and what these brave souls have done in the name of freedom. How could I not? How could WE not?

Granny Annie said...

Excellent post RK. And you made a wonderful point about meeting people who have been deprived of freedoms like we take for granted. It is shameful to hear about their lives and deprivation we fortunately will never know. They know how to truly value freedom and thank the goodwill ambassadors they have come to know in the form of our troops.

skyewriter said...

So spot on, Riot. I don't think enough Americans realize the realities of war and the unbelievable courage of many who serve.

Those sales are just insulting.

On a lighter note: my verification word--nopoodis.

Not touching that one. Both literally and figuratively.

pheromone girl said...

Excellent points. The things we take for granted are beyond belief.

I plan to visit the VA hospital next month. They get lots of visits on Memorial Day and a couple other holidays, are basically ignored the rest of the year. I highly recommend a visit to a VA hospital in your area to anyone who reads this. Some of the men and women there are younger than I am and sacrificed their lived VOLUNTARILY to fight a horrible war.

Thanks, RK.

Shionge said...

Well said RK and I do notice the big whole lot of celebration going on for Memorial Day and an element of truth that it has loss it's flavour.

For some countries, Memorial Day is a sobering day for remembering.

Aliceson said...

My grandfather is also a WWII veteran and the things he saw in Europe are still fresh in his mind even at 91! My grandfather was the driver for the Army chaplain.

He was here with us over the weekend but we skipped the parade this year...

Thanks RK for reminding us what Memorial Day is all about!

Carri said...

Great reminder RK. It seems we Americans cannot do anything without commercializing it...

Pouty Lips said...

What a great way to spend Memorial Day. Loved your post.

themom said...

Yes, the Americans as a whole have taken a special holiday and made it into a "bargain sale" weekend. Not in this house!

Darth Weasel said...

very well written and accurate it is amazing the difference between saying "support our troops" and actually reaching out to do something about it. I shudder every time I hear things such as "better protective gear is too expensive" or "our troops are outside our borders". Pretty hard to fight an aggressive war if you are in your own borders. No fighting or dying if you are within your own borders. Seems supportive to me.

Grandpa Eddie said...

There is way too much "partying" being done on this day.

This should be a National Day of Mourning for all those who lost their lives and those who were permanently damaged both physically and mentally.

To those who would say that those who served served to give us the freedom to "party", I say you have 364 other days to "party", now is the day to show some respect for those who protected your right to "party."

Anonymous said...

I made the choice to be a the third generation in my family (from both sides of my family) to serve my country because I felt it was important. I know that there are many people, for all sorts of reasons who do not serve time in the military. However, days like Memorial Day are not to be remembered by those of us who did serve. It's a day for all to take time out to recognize those who died in the line of duty. Those folks died so that we could enjoy our freedoms. So when it is cheapened by sales, it does sicken me just a bit. Thanks for taking time to reflect upon what the day means.

Green tea said...

It is a day to remember, I choose to do it quietly