“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose…” I love Janis Joplin, but I don’t necessarily agree with these lyrics from Bobby McGee. Freedom’s cost is quite high and there is certainly much to lose when talking about its price. The payment can include, but is not limited to blood, tears, and sacrifice. Looking back, I am sorry that I did not enlist in the navy. I wish I would have. But, it is likely I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I saw the photo to the right on Facebook the other day and it really spoke to me. It basically says that each military member wrote a blank check to the government, giving up all to ensure the freedom of this nation.
I don’t know why this Memorial Day means so much to me. Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown up a little and I realize how much our military serves as a buffer against the forces that would love to take what we have acquired. Maybe it’s because I can feel the foundation of this nation shaking beneath my feet, unstable from the corruption and decay of political agendas. Or maybe it is because I now understand the utter selflessness it takes to enlist in the military.
It is a scary proposition, enlisting. You never know when you will be called into active duty. Better yet, as a mother, you don’t know when you will be offering up your son or daughter as YOUR ultimate sacrifice. However, bravery comes in many forms. My son is only a teenager, but the likelihood of him steering toward the military is real. It’s real for every parent. It is an honorable profession. I have heard some people say that because someone isn’t smart, they enlist as an alternative to attending college. Let’s ask this questions: What does intelligence mean when it stands up against courage? Let that sink in.
Our patriots dating back to the colonies should be honored. They set our country free, fighting against tyranny from across the ocean. Simple men with pitchforks came to the lines to forge a path to freedom for this nation.
In the same token, I must bow my head in reverence to the Native American nations that were broken apart as a result of our ambitions. There are so many things we can learn from their culture. They were the true people of this nation and we built up ourselves on the backs of their dead. So, even as we honor this day, we need to remember their sacrifices, too.
The American Civil War. Many feel that we should look down upon those that served for the South. I do not agree with that. Brothers against brothers and women disguised as men just to fight for what they believed in. Right or wrong, the intentions were pure. The sacrifice is worthy of recognition. In fact, from what I have researched, my father’s family came from Virginia. So, deep down, I’m a southerner I suppose.
World War II marked a time in our history that won’t soon be forgotten either. Those gentlemen are few at this point, most of them dead having lived out their lives. However, when I think of the many that died overseas, I pause. As a collection of individuals, both living and dead, their impact will be felt forever. They saved the world… literally. Do you know why we don’t raise our hand hailing allegiance to Hitler and why we don’t have swastikas in our yards? Our World War II vets can be thanked for that. The discovery and confirmation of the death camps and the Holocaust, the shift in history, the A-bomb. World War II and its veterans saved life as we know it and liberated a people that died by the millions as a result of hate and an unquenchable thirst for power.
I don’t watch war movies. However, Band of Brothers is one I can’t watch enough. I loved learning about Easy Company. Such knowledge comes from that generation as a whole. It was a different time. It was a different way of life. It was a time when women were called up to work in factories and serve in a different capacity. A capacity they had never served in before.
Vietnam. My father-in-law was headed for Vietnam. My father and uncle grew up during this conflict also. They didn’t have to enlist due to medical issues, but they were called up to do their duty. Those that served in Vietnam deserve the same honor as any other veteran. They left their homeland to wander the jungles, ensuring that the United States remained free. How dare we say they weren’t patriots!
Lastly, but certainly not least are our service animals. Think of their sacrifice. They don’t have to understand their purpose, but they serve in blind faith. As we have charged into battle, swords raised; as we have sent our four-legged companions into danger zones ahead of us. They have died for the causes we hold dear. Birds flying high with messages attached to their legs. Camels in the dessert escorting our warriors to where they needed to go. The list goes on and on.
I watched War Horse and had to get up several times during that movie. I could not contain my sorrow. It was a movie that was much more than I could handle. The story alone was overwhelming. As I said, I typically can’t handle war movies. Still, I stayed to finish the movie because I felt like I needed to. After all, I was able to sit and watch the movie because someone fought and died for that particular freedom.
My paternal grandfather was a serviceman. I don’t know about my maternal side because I don’t even know who they are. I know that my mother’s adopted father didn’t serve, but that’s all I can tell you there.
My husband comes from a long line of military. His paternal grandfather, his paternal great-grandfather, his paternal uncle, and his brother all served this country. Friends we know that have served, too many to even be included in this blog post. The parents and grandparents and relatives of friends who have served. We all pay homage to them on this day. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE! And remember to #thankavet!