Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

Until 9/11, Memorial Day was nothing more than a reason for a long weekend. I never thought for a moment about what it was & who it celebrated. The day the towers came down all that changed. I remember reading a letter to the editor, soon after the 2004 elections, in which the writer was explaining why she, a Democrat, voted for Bush. She said that he made her think about what it means to be an American, what she stood for, what our nation stood for. 9/11 had a similar effect on me. Before, I was an American simply because I was. It was something I never gave any more thought to than to the color of my hair. It was what I was, that was all.

I mumbled the pledge of allegiance when I wasn't passing a note to my friends or mouthing messages. I memorized the preamble to the Constitution & Bill of Rights for a test & promptly forgot it. I was taught by a many anti-American teachers. I was vaguely aware that they were telling only half the story, but, I didn't care. As long as they gave me good grades for rehashing their dogmas, so what?

The military was a bunch of people in nice looking uniforms with fabulous brass bands who put on air shows. Yes, there were wars, the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor ect. ect. ect., but so what? I was too young to feel the full impact of the threat that the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall came down just as I was becoming aware of the world. There was first Gulf War, but it was so brief & the images of it so movie like, that it barely registered in my mind. It certainly did not change my view of the world or force any sort of soul searching. While it did instill in me a newfound respect for the military, it failed to make me appreciate the sacrifices made by those in uniform. I believe that this is because I saw that war as a triumph of technology rather than the American soldier.

The War on Terror kicked off in Afghanistan. Every piece of news made my heart beat a little faster. I prayed for the country & its soldiers for the first time. Seeing women without burkas & little girls going to school made me feel proud to be an American. I was grateful to our service men & women. I began to envy them a bit. I felt that they were doing a service, changing the world, & making it a better place. I began to see that our greatest weapons were not the jets & guns, but the people. The people who rode on horseback into enemy territory, the people who went cold & hungry, the people who kept going through exhausting sleepless days & nights so that people like me can throw a fit when we have a bad hair day & don't have anything to wear.

The War in Iraq, with the new era of milblogs it ushered in, deepened my respect & awareness of the military. I have a greater appreciation now, not only for our service men & women, but also their families. I never realized how difficult life is for them, even in the best of times. Now, when I hear someone make fun of the military, I get angry. When I hear my professors bash American & teach half-truths, I get angry. When the MSM pours out military & America bashing stories, I get angry. When Hollywood makes anti American movies, I get angry. I am a different person now, I analyze things & think about them. I no longer dismiss disrespect to our country & its service people.

This Memorial Day, I would like to say Thank You, to those who served our country & gave me the liberty which I sometimes fail to appreciate. It is you who make our country great. Without your sacrifices, the freedom & liberation that America gave to the world could not have been possible. Freedom is not free, & you pay its price. I am grateful to all who served in the past, & especially those who serve as I write. You are not forgotten. I am also keep in my thoughts the families of our heroes past & present, their sacrifices, while unrewarding by medals & ribbons, is no less praise worthy than that of those who wear the uniform. Thank you & God Bless you & God Bless America.

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