It's an interesting thing: to be able to hold a deep river of gratitude for those who choose to serve the country, and to balance that with an equally deep river of heartbreak around how shattering war is, how damaging it is to countries and human beings, and how much is spent on this country's military budget. It's an interesting thing: to deeply honor and truly respect the choices of your family members, and to zip it when we're all of having holiday dinners because we wouldn't want to have that discussion again, now, would we?
(I secretly do want to have that conversation, but, you know ... I wasn't always a trouble maker. In fact, when I was a kid, I talked so little in class that one of my elementary schools sent me to speech therapy. They were convinced that the reason I wasn't talking was because I was having trouble actually forming words. I wasn't. "Speech Therapy" didn't last long. I don't have that problem anymore.)
Despite any deeply held political beliefs I have, this is still true:
In all of the US Conflicts, more than 1,319,729 soldiers have lost their lives. That, to me, is an absolutely staggering number. (Of course, some of those conflicts included conflicts (including US military / American Indian conflict) that I just cannot support by any stretch of the imagination.) I honor the loss of life and the millions of family members who have been affected by that loss.
Today is Memorial Day. We honor those who lost their lives in combat.
Today is Memorial Day. I also remember that a generation of Russians lost their lives in WWII. I also remember that between 112,789 and 123,419 Iraqi civilians (civilians) have lost their lives in the most recent conflict. I also remember the millions upon millions of Native Americans who were killed by foreign settlers. I could go on. And on. And on.
Memorial Day is not simple for me. It is not a 10% discount at Taco Time for veterans. It is not American flags flying on Main Street. It is not Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA." It is a sticky situation, a terrible middle ground, where many of my own truths run headlong into each other. I'm remembering. I'm troubled.
And I'm hopeful, because, darn it. That's part of who I am as well.
Am I really going to end this post by a quote by Fred Rogers?
I am, my friends.
“When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”
― Fred Rogers