Monday, May 30, 2011
Blessed Memorial Day -
I am the wife and a daughter of war veterans and the stories they tell - or try not to tell - about their experiences makes one wonder why we don't do all we can to stay out of conflict. Unfortunately, we all know that is not possible. Sometimes a fight has to be waged. But that is why countries created rules of engagements and boundaries about what we will and won't do to each other when we are captured. Trying to put civility in an uncivil act.
As a child, I had an unquestioning loyalty. I remember being the one to get the flag and hang it outside on Memorial Day. I looked up in the encyclopedia on the proper way to hang the flag and I was very careful not to let it touch the ground and to check it to make sure there were no frayed edges. I remember it being fun and patriotic. I remember being surprised we had a flag.
I don't cringe when someone burns the flag. I know some folks think it should be illegal but here's my thought: I would support it being illegal if when I was born my country gave me a flag from the Government Office of Flags. If at the time of my birth my country claimed me as a daughter and gave me a flag they would have the right to tell me how it could or could not be used, including destroying it in protest or wearing it like a swimsuit. I actually think we should do that. We should make American flags only on American soil. They should not be massed produced on foreign soil. They should come from the Government Office of Flags and they should provide one, free of charge, to every citizen born and naturalized.
But as long as I have to buy it - and pay taxes on the purchase - I get to do with it what I want.
And I am not less of a citizen because of it. I believe in the freedoms my husband and father fought for. I will defend your right to disagree with me and claim you as much of an American as I claim myself to be - heck, I'll even give you the edge. Because that's the reason the sacrifice was made - so we have the right to be disagreeable. So you have the right to bear arms and I have the right not to. So I have the right to love where my heart wishes and so you can wish everyone had the right to marry. Even the wish for some folks not to be able to marry (you're wrong about that, by the way, but it's your right to be.)
If you ask my husband how long he served he will tell you the years, the months, and the days of his service. He was not a career serviceman by any stretch. He was drafted in and when he was discharged he never looked back. But he and my father both served their country at a time when being a black man in the armed forces or serving in Viet Nam were not easy because the country as a whole did not appreciate it. But still they served.
For those who have served our country - thank you so much for doing what I don't have the courage to do. I would hope I'd have your back but there are no guarantees of that. You do have my thanks and my heartfelt respect and awe for what you and your families do because a soldier never serves alone.
My prayers and best wishes to blue star families - I hope they all return safely. And also to gold star families - the ultimate sacrifice can never be truly appreciated but we try.
Have a blessed Memorial Day.