Memorial Day 2016

For most, today means a day off of work, a bank holiday, some BBQ or other good food, and the company of friends and family. For some, though, today is about a lot more. It’s about loss, life, and the war machine.

I spent the last few days in Washington, DC, amongst those that were visiting just to visit, those that were there to beat the Memorial Day crowds, and those that were there to remember. During my visit, I stopped by a number of different places, including the memorial to the Korean Conflict service members. My grandfather served in Korea, but we were fortunate enough to have him come home to the family. Still, I remember.

We are a nation of great freedoms, great privilege, and great success. But, what is worth more than all of that, is we’re also a nation of great loss.

Freedom is not Free

In grade school, I was incredibly fortunate to have been taught by a gentleman who’s love for shaping young people was only exceeded by his own integrity and self-commitment. He shared those values with those that he taught. In grade school, I thought he was only teaching us arithmetic, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, reading comprehension and history out of a book. In adulthood, I look back on his lessons and realize that he was also teaching us far more valuable things: compassion, teamwork, and individual thought. He challenge(ed/s) us, then and now, to put thought before action. To weigh the consequences. He taught us to be a more intelligent part of society that thrives on making this a better place for us all – in any capacity we can.

This educator also served in Vietnam. I’m reminded every Memorial day, Veteran’s day, and throughout the year just how much he (and so many others) sacrificed – no matter if they came home, or didn’t. The loss is great.

The loss was sanctioned.

Our government is challenged with protecting our people from threats near and far, those known and unknown, and from enemies and friendlies alike. But at what cost should we, as a nation, go so far as to involve ourselves in needless and/or unwarranted war? The cost is great … and behind that great cost are two factions. One winner. One loser. The military industrial complex always wins – no matter the outcome of the war. Our service members, their families, friends and other loved ones lose – every time.

We’re reaching a point of critical mass – that mass being the amount of BS that is fed to us to justify needless killing, unwanted intervention in regions that are not our own, and the real value of what we stand to, and will lose. We’ve lost our way.

America the Free. Free to whom?

Our country, soon, will be asked to make some decisions about the next Commander in Chief. I’m scared to see who ends up on the ballot, not because I fear the person themselves, but the machine that operates behind them. We, as a nation can not handle more division, more hostility, and more loss. We, as a nation, are broken and wounded. We, as a nation, are not free.

This memorial day, I beg of you to take just 5 minutes out of your day to stop what you’re doing, think about the sacrifices that have been made in your name, and ask yourself – was that sacrifice justified? Was it worth it? Once you’ve done that, think about the men and women that have, and will continue to unless we change course, sacrificed the priceless gift of life in the name of this once-great country of ours.

I wish you, your family, your friends and loved ones a safe and memorable Memorial Day.

My heart bleeds today for those lost while serving under our banner. Today is a day to remember.