Veteran’s Day

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Today is Veteran’s Day.  It used to be called Armistice Day, but then people started to forget that it was a holiday meant to celebrate the end of WWI.  I guess it’s hard to celebrate the end of one war when so many others have followed.

I watch ESPN quite a bit, not because I really need to see all of Lebron’s highlights, but because it makes nice background noise to doing just about anything else.  They’ve been celebrating Veteran’s Day all week.  Paying “tribute” to the military by going to bases and holding college basketball games.  They also say that we all need to thank our troops and veterans for their service; after all, we couldn’t watch 24 hours of sports every day without their sacrifices.  That might be true, but I’m not very good with being told how I’m supposed to feel or act.  Not by idiots like Skip Bayless, anyway.

I understand logically what a huge thing it is to serve in the military.  It is an immense and incredible sacrifice, and I appreciate that there are men and women willing to make that sacrifice so that I and my loved ones do not have to.  In that respect, I am grateful.  But what I really feel for our current troops is more akin to guilt.  I don’t want to thank them.  I want to walk up each and every one of them, shake their hands and look them in the eyes, and say, “I am so sorry that you were sent far from home to get shot at and blown up for no good goddamn reason.”  Because that’s what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amount to: a lot of fighting and killing and destruction for nothing.  I’m sure someone will want to tell me it’s for freedom, or about liberating oppressed people.  Or that it’s because of 9/11.  Or any other of the specious reasons pundits and war mongers have been using ever since The Shrub ordered the invasion of a sovereign nation that WAS NOT CURRENTLY ATTACKING US.  I’m gonna stop there because the whole thing makes me so angry I could spit.  Hundreds of thousands of innocent and not so innocent people have died because the United States seemed to think it was a good idea to start a war on an idea.  You can’t fight an idea.

This is starting to get away from me, so I’ll just cut to the song.  Yeah, I know I’ve posted quite a few Springsteen tunes, but this one pretty much sums up the futility of what’s been done to our troops for the last 11 years.  The look on Springsteen’s face pretty much sums up how I feel when I think about these things: hopeless.

Thank a veteran.  Apologize to a veteran.  But remember that they’re people, not icons.

3 thoughts on “Veteran’s Day

  1. Mary,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. My son, who more than likely was already a candidate for PTSD due to our history was recruited while in high school and opted for early enlistment. Boot Camp and Advanced Individual Training immediately followed graduation. An quick wedding in between the two trainings so his high school sweetheart wouldn’t be abandoned while he was stationed elsewhere. Elsewhere turned out to be Hawaii and within two months he was deployed to Iraq. Less than a year later his life in shambles, marriage over, and sucked into addiction and the party/drug culture that is inextricably linked to the military culture on O’ahu, he inadvertently contributed to a fellow soldier’s suicide. Out of his right mind, addicted, scared and confused he went AWOL for about 9 months. He stopped running, turned himself in and spent three years incarcerated in federal military prison for his mistakes and wrong choices. With a dishonorable discharge on his record finding work in this economy was near impossible and the good service he did provide eradicated and discounted as though it never mattered at all.

    I’m sure his is not a unique story.

    What I am learning about neurological brain development indicates that the frontal lobe portion of the brain responsible for cause/effect reasoning and consequential decision making isn’t fully formed until the early 20’s for women and the mid 20’s for men, yet we are sending underdeveloped youths who are generally surviving difficult and traumatic childhoods and easy to recruit into war and penalizing them for not making healthier and better choices when they experience further trauma.

    Yeah, I’m a tad bitter and angry. I thank them for their service, but would condemn those who manipulate, use, and discard our young men and women in self-serving ways for unjust reasons.

    Be well,
    Kina

    • Marco’s story breaks my heart. I hate, hate, hate those in power that use and discard young people who join the military because they think they’re doing something great (they are), or who feel like they have no other options (they do, but not without the knowledge and resources those in power like to deny access to). I’m so glad we’ve abolished the draft, but we haven’t done much to improve some people’s prospects. That leaves us with a sort of unofficial draft, where many of the young men and women who join are underprivileged and trying to raise themselves, or who are are fooled into thinking they’ll get to travel and party all the time.

      I know from your blog that he’s turned his life around, and I am so glad for that. Tell him I wished him a belated Happy Veteran’s Day, thank you, and I’m sorry.

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