Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

I post this in gratitude to the men and women who have served, serve now, and will serve to protect everyday people.  Though this is Memorial Day in the USA, I also am grateful to men and women who fight for freedom all over the world.

It's very easy to forget how lucky I am to live under a beautiful constitution that many work to uphold, and to have the ability to vote, among many other freedoms.  

My grandmother's cousin was taken from her side and died in a concentration camp.  When I was an infant, my family was forced to leave a country where the military was unable to hold back invaders that reduced a thriving nation to a third world coal-mining center.  Today I remember to be grateful that the US and other military organizations throughout the world are able to help maintain independence.  No nation, including my own, has a perfect record when it comes to the various rights that humanists long ago fought to establish not only as cultural norms in the western world, but as ideals that they hoped the entire world would embrace.  Despite the imperfections of my own nation, I don't have to worry that machete-wielding men will break into my house to rape and chop my family to pieces.  I live in a place where women are not mutilated under the guise of culture or religion, nor are they killed under local law or custom because they tried to leave home, or protect their children from conscription or slave labor, or they had the audacity to be raped.  I live in a place where children are protected by laws that large organizations work to uphold, and where the vast majority can expect to grow up to be adults.  My home has a very long list of privileges that are so ingrained in my being as basic rights that I often don't realize on a conscious level that other people can only fantasize about them in a quiet moment.

Lots of people live in great places like the USA.  These countries can only hold onto the freedoms they have as long as they can defend themselves against people willing to use all levels of violence to gain their ends.  

I wish that violence didn't have to be used to stop violence, but I learned long ago that strong language will not stop a punch to the face, and wishing will not change that.  I wish that governments had little or no corruption, but I learned long ago that even the best government, any organization for that matter including the military, has people in it that manipulate the system for their own ends.  Wishing will not make these kinds of people disappear, or make it impossible for them to find jobs in key places that give them great wealth and power.  

Neither of these truths tarnish the depth of gratitude I have for what the military, and that means every man and woman who serves in it individually, has given me.  When I see American protesters screaming "This is what a police state looks like!" I have to shake my head and wonder how many of them died in that protest, and how many went home to find that their family had disappeared.  I wonder how many were arrested and remained in jail for the rest of their lives.  A police state?  Really?  But I'm grateful that they have the freedom to protest, as do I.

I don't know if the fallen can accept my thanks, or if my tears can express all the things I feel when I think of the soldiers, oh so young, buried everywhere in marked and unmarked places.  I know the vast majority of their families will not read my words, and I doubt the ones that do will find little if any comfort in them.  

I post this in gratitude to the men and women who have served, serve now, and will serve to protect everyday people all over the world.  Thank you.

Thank you.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
   Scarce heard amid the guns below.

   We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

   Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
   We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

             -- John McCrae


Blasé said...

I enjoyed this post, thanks.

Kami said...

You're very welcome. Thank you for your comment.

The Moody Minstrel said...

A very good post. And 107.98% correct.