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.