It’s Memorial Day once again. The American flag is out at some of our homes, others just appreciate it as an extra day off. My ex-husband saw the weekend as time to watch the Indianapolis 500. He was never much interested in paying homage to our armed forces of all branches.
For me it’s different. I honor it quietly with gratitude as my own father served 20 years in the military at the tail end of WWII and through the Korean conflict. To him it was home and family no matter where we were. I think he started dying the day he retired from the military. My children’s father also served for 3 years during the controversial Vietnam War. He didn’t want to go and hurt anyone, but knew that volunteering had better options than the draft. He was a pacifist at heart but he served his country honorably. The military changed him in ways I could never have anticipated.
I wouldn’t wish the military life on anyone. It’s hard on the entire family. The men are gone for long periods of time while the family tries to keep going without them. The upside is that they make a stronger community than most. Everyone’s survival at home and in the field depends on it. I know it took it’s tole on our family and then again when I had my young family.
I will be very happy when no one ever goes to war again but I doubt that’s possible. There is too much money to be made by war. I have always felt that our government sees these young men and women as expendable and rarely treats them with the respect and dignity they deserve. They are also grossly underpaid. That I know from firsthand experience. Unfortunately, I think that’s true in most countries. I could get up on a really large soapbox here but I think it would be pointless.
I’ve seen firsthand what can happen to our service men and women when they try to mainstream back into civilian life. It’s rarely a pretty picture. When you see a Veteran sitting on the curb with a paper bag hiding their bottle, remember they are trying hard to erase horrendous memories from their minds. Many are so traumatized by what they have been through they can barely function. How are they supposed to be lucid enough to ask for help?
The military was my home as a dependent for many years and it was family. I miss that. It can’t be duplicated. I’ve never found as tight-knit a community anywhere since. We always ran out of money before we ran out of month. Then several of our friends would get together and bring all the groceries they had, combine them and feed us all. That’s what you call a melting pot.
I would rather miss it and never need another Memorial Day. My dad’s remains are buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery with other veterans. As is proper in this case, my mom is right there with him as they were for well over 50 years. I’m 1800 miles away so there is no chance to go visit especially since I still can’t drive very far. Maybe that will change soon. Tomorrow would be his birthday were he still with us. So I will think of him quietly and alone as well as my mother who did the best she could do with 4 wild children by herself most of the time. She would have made a good Sargent as well.
You can enjoy the race, have a great picnic, barbecue, or whatever it is you do on this holiday and still remember those who have given their all in service of their country and to you. Then give some thought to how we can end the cycle of violence against each other. It usually has to start in the home.
From my heart to yours,