Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

So, I totally meant to do a post earlier today about Veteran's Day, and some new fabric I received (I even uploaded the pictures to my flickr account hours ago!), but I got distracted and compelled to do a rant on Facebook and have been semi-stewing over it since.

There are two holidays a year designed to honor the military, our soldiers, the wars we have fought, and the men and women who were lost: Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. As it states in my "About Me", the hubs and I are both Iraq war veterans. I spent four years in the Army, one year of which was in Iraq, learned an entire foreign language (Chinese Mandarin to be specific), and all of that was before I even was able to legally drink alcohol. Shaine has served five years active duty, and continues to serve in the National Guard. He has spent close to three years overseas, and more than two of that was in Iraq. His 19th, 21st, and 22nd birthdays were all celebrated in Iraq. His uncle served in Vietnam, and his brother and cousin (both recently separated from Active Duty) served in Iraq, all Army. The majority of the men in my family served in the military: My great uncle and two cousins on my dad's side (one still in the Reserves), my grandpa, and two uncles (one still serving in the Air Force) on my moms side. My mom served in the Army. My stepdad retired from the army after serving in Kuwait during the gulf war, Bosnia, and several other deployments, and has deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan as a civilian contractor since retiring. My brother in law is currently serving in the Marines. The military has been a daily part of my life since my mom joined when I was 6 or 7. I was at her basic training graduation. I went to four different high schools, a new one in a different state each year. I can't listen to the National Anthem, retreat, or Taps without getting choked up and getting chills, and I cried last night when the usher at the Spurs game wouldn't let us in to watch the choir sing the Star Spangled Banner. I take great pride in my service, and the service of those around me. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the things the military has provided me and my family, or that I don't think of the sacrifices others have made for us to have the things we do.

So why the Facebook rant, you ask? Well, I think it is amazing and wonderful that some companies and restaurants offer military discounts or free meals for Veteran's Day. I am proud to take advantage of these offers. However, a few friends made comments along the lines of "Veterans shouldn't take advantage or be happy about free meals because you are forgetting those who cannot share them with you." This got under my skin for so many reasons. First off, I will say that while all but 1 who made those sorts of comments WERE at least military, only one of them had actually been on any deployment (a three month one, and while not to Iraq or Afghanistan, it was to a dangerous country-- but her status was more along the lines of "I know people who can't eat a good meal BECAUSE they're deployed"). I won't get into all the details of my rant, but I will say that non-military people who have lost someone-- a friend or relative-- in any war, is never going to forget that person. A military servicemember who hasn't deployed but knows people who have is never going to forget them. Someone who has been there, and experienced war first hand, or seen some of the horrible things there, is going to remember almost every detail of those occurrences every day for the rest of their life. War is not something a person will ever forget. War veterans-- whether the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any of the lesser publicized conflicts/wars-- are going to think about their service during that war in some way, shape, or form every day. Sometimes it will be a funny story they think of. Maybe a song that they thought of or listened to while on a patrol or a convoy. Maybe it's the birthday of a lost friend or loved one. Maybe anytime they hear a helicopter it makes them think of the helipad that was outside of their building in Iraq. Maybe when they can't sleep at night they are thinking about the fact that the last true good night's sleep they had was before they ever deployed, or they're afraid to sleep because they are worried they will have another scary or weird or crazy dream/nightmare about being back in Iraq. Maybe when they're at the bar and they hear a drink order, it reminds them that it was the favorite drink they used to share with a friend that was lost. To hear someone (especially one who hasn't experienced war or combat firsthand) say that a veteran taking advantage of a nice and generous offer for them because of their service means that they are ungrateful or unappreciative or forgetful of the ultimate sacrifice given by some of their comrades is downright offensive. Any veteran, whether they deployed or not, that *forgets* or is unappreciative of those who gave their lives simply is nonhuman.
MOST veterans do not ask for any recognition, let alone special events or offers. Some of us even feel uncomfortable when receiving any type of recognition. In fact, when I came home on my R&R Leave (two weeks break from Iraq), and when I came back from the end of deployment, we were greeted by USO members/volunteers and many American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members. They stood in a long receiving line, shaking our hands, saying "Thankyou" and to me, it was extremely uncomfortable and awkward. I love watching other veterans be recognized and thanked, but to be thanked by other veterans? I should be thanking them. Veterans of Vietnam, the Korean War, and some may have even served in WW2, or most certainly remember it. Their living conditions were far worse, they lost many more of their brothers in arms, and especially in the case of the Vietnam war, they were treated far worse upon their homecoming.
So, I guess my point is that someone should never assume that because someone is taking advantage of a great offer, and getting a free doughnut or a free sub sandwich, that it means they aren't thinking of what others have sacrificed, because the truth is-- that vet probably thinks about them every single day, holiday or not.

With all that said, thankyou to ALL veterans, and thankyou to everyone who takes a moment out to recognize and be thankful of veterans, too! I have seen some gorgeous flag and other patriotic quilts in my reader today, but this one by Colleen of Lucky Duck Dreams has to be my favorite! Check it out!

1 comment:

Ariane said...

I agree with you totally on this one. I have never served, but I'm very thankful to everyone who serves in the military, and risks their lives for us. Two years ago, I lost my cousin in the Afganistan war. He had been part of the Canadian military since he graduated high school. He was 35. He has 4 children and a wife that are still with us. He was a medic and died while giving supplies to women and children, when a man on a bicycle came in with an explosive and killed all of them. 32 people died in that incident. 4 military men and the rest women and children. I always remember him everytime someone speaks of the military. He was such a great guy. Thanks for sharing with us. And thanks for the service you and your family has given to make our world a better place. Hugs Ariane