Today is Memorial Day, a day to remember those military men and women who gave their lives in the service of our country. I didn’t always have such a positive attitude toward the military. I was coming of age at the end of the Viet Nam war. It was a tumultuous time in America and I clearly remember the peaceful and not-so-peaceful public rallies and demonstrations, especially those protesting the war. I did not like the military and did not believe we should be sending our citizens to fight someone else’s war.
Then I found myself in the Army. I learned that every job in the military was designed to support the fighting, from cooks to truck mechanics to accountants to medics. One huge killing machine. I still hated the military but as I met soldiers returning from Viet Nam I began to understand their point of view and to recognize their sacrifice. Many of them had been drafted, forced to join the ‘volunteer’ Army, but many had joined out of their own sense of duty. I got out in a year, a story I think I’ve told elsewhere in this blog, and spent my time in the relative safety of Louisiana and Texas.
I am not sure when my attitude changed but I now have the utmost respect for the military. I still do not believe in killing, I hate guns and wish they didn’t exist except for sport, I believe war is usually wrong but I have come to understand that killing, war and a strong military are necessary. Many have died so the rest of us can be free to live lives of our own choosing. We have the freedom to elect our leaders, to work at jobs we choose, to write blogs criticizing aspects of our country. Much blood was shed to protect those rights and freedoms.I think one of the two wars we’ve been engaged in during the past decade should never have happened. Many people died during those wars. But I will never dishonor those who served and those who died. They did what they believed was right. There are no simple answers to the questions that relate to war and my opinion about was is only one opinion. We are a complicated combination of differing views and that paradox is defended by the sacrifices of our military men and women.
I do not personally know anyone who died in a war yet I am connected to all of them. We all share that connection. And today is a day to honor them.