Memorial Day reflection–THANK YOU SOLDIERS!

I am filled with great pride today.

I have never served in the military; never thought to. So I have nothing but the utmost respect for those brave, courageous men and women who volunteer to go into what I believe is unknown territory. I say unknown because, in my humble opinion, even after tons of what I am sure is superior training, how can one fully be mentally prepared for what comes along with a war situation? How can one be ready to see bodies blown apart by IEDs or high-powered weapons?

I have a great friend from high school who joined the Army and went to Iraq. To this day, I have not heard any specifics from her time over there, nor have I pressed her for information. As good-natured and strong as my friend is, no doubt did she see things that will stick with her for the rest of her life. I do not expect her to divulge anything she does not wish to divulge. But I will always respect her for her sacrifice.

I do believe our military is the best in the world, which is why we’re always expected to be the Big Brother of the world. It would not be what it is without the men and women who we are to honor today. I passed several cemeteries on my way to my parents’ house. Each was adorned with flags on veterans’ gravesites. I was tempted to stop and salute them all.

I had to remind myself what I was doing when I left high school, and my mindset. I was too silly and undisciplined to have signed up for the military. In my opinion, being an effective member of our armed forces probably requires more brains than brawn, even though of course physical fitness is supremely important. But think of the quick decisions they have to make. Think of how they have to keep their emotions in check. I could not do it. Because they can, I respect them for it.

I looked up some history of Memorial Day. I found several different websites with valuable information, but here is one that is relatively concise.

This day also made me think of how we have to do better taking care of our veterans. There is a great deal of homeless that are veterans. As a matter of fact, as many as 1 in 4 homeless is a veteran. One in five veterans has a mental disorder, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (who can blame them???). Imagine those issues being exacerbated by coming back here and not being able to secure a job or get the mental health care you need to deal with seeing dead children, or possibly having killed someone, or seeing a comrade fall.  On message boards, I often hear people commenting that the veterans do not deserve any better treatment than regular civilians. I am going to have to disagree. Why? Because so many of our freedoms and liberties are dependent upon having a host of VOLUNTEER soldiers in place who go out and effectively defend this nation, and defend it well. When they come back, after sacrificing their lives (and not just in terms of possible death, but also in terms of missing out on the life events that the rest of us take for granted–regular employment, leisure time, watching our children be born, going to their plays and recitals, even eating meals with them, missing out on loved ones’ funerals, etc.), you best believe they deserve the best mental health care, physical health care and rehabilitation, and job assistance we can muster. I’ll bet those same people saying the vets don’t deserve special treatment would flee to Canada if the draft was ever reinstated.

I prepared my ribs last night with great satisfaction, but today is about more than just great BBQ. Let’s take a moment to remember our vets, remember those who have fallen, and each find a way to make their lives better.



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