Monday, December 3, 2007

Memorial Day

I realize that a repost is a pretty weak way to start off a new venture, but it's nearly 2100 and I'm tired.  So here it is.  It's called "Memorial Day" and I wrote it a day or two before Memorial Day proper this year after about the 10,000th radio advert saying, in effect:  REMEMBER THEIR SACRIFICE AND REMEMBER WE HAVE GREAT DEALS ON ANY NUMBER OF BULLSHIT ITEMS THAT WERE MADE IN CHINA YOU GODDAMN SUCKER.

Good God, it rankles me even now whenever I think about it.  But I digress.  Anyway, here it is.

Memorial Day

I'm not sure how to begin.

I often find myself reflecting on my time in Iraq. On days like Memorial Day, Veteran's Day and the Marine Corps Birthday, it practically haunts me. Writing helps some.

This is a 3 day weekend. The "unoffical start of Summer." There will be a lot of partying and camping and revelry, not to mention the fantastic savings you can find at your local Home Depot/Safeway/Mall. For me, however, it's all overshadowed. Like having a birthday party in the middle of a graveyard, you can't appreciate the balloons for all the cold, gray stone surrounding you. 

Memorial day is very personal for me, because I've known a few men that have died. 1stSgt Barnhill, killed by a chunk of metal the size of my fist when it slammed into his head at roughly the speed of sound. Warrant Officer Wells, killed in the same fashion. Lance Corporal Crabtree, his face riddled with shrapnel that destroyed an eye and left him brain damaged. Lance Corporal Forkum, who drove hundreds of miles in Iraq, came home unscathed, put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

There are more. An APC full of men that struck an IED. The ones that survived the initial blast burned amid the grenades and ammunition they kept with them. I can't remember their names. If you want to know the truth, I'm afraid to look them up because as I watched the black smoke rise and felt the concussions from the explosions of their ordnance, my only thought was "I'm so glad that's not me."

There are more. Many more.

I'm not going to feed you a line about how they died protecting your freedom, because they didn't. But they did die in service. They died horrible deaths and I feel sick because they were cheated out of the rest of their lives. I wish it could have been different. 

Memorial day is when I think back on the sacrifices of those that came before me and those I have worked next to. It's painful, as it should be. As it should always be. 

Thomas Jefferson once said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants". The tree of which he speaks does not belong to America, it belongs to humanity. Similarly, Memorial Day (to me) is not simply a day about American sacrifice. It's a day about Humans paying the ultimate price for something larger than themselves, irrespective of nationality. 

I sit here on my couch as I compose this. A hot cup of coffee on the table next to me, my puppy gnawing on the rawhide bone she keeps next to her bed. Music is softly playing from my laptop. I am a lottery winner. If you're reading this, you're likely a winner as well. I have clean running water, electricity, and a roof over my head. I have a video game system. I have polarized sunglasses. I have a shelf full of books and a refridgerator. I am fabulously rich. Wealth beyond what 99% of humanity has ever experienced. I go to sleep at night on a bed with blankets and clean sheets, unafraid of predators, thieves or murderers. 

I have all of these things because other people are willing to fight to keep them secure. On Monday, I will go to a Memorial Day Ceremony and say a Thank You. The recipients will never hear it; they're dead. But I'll say "Thank You" just the same, because I owe them. 

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli.

In Memoriam.

Hoo boy.  That uh...that is one ugly ass block of text.  Well, just think, this was the one and only time you'll ever have to deal with a nasty copy/paste job.  I should have a new post ready by this weekend.  Ideally, I'll be throwing up a post a week.  We'll see how that plan fares as time marches on.

Thanks for reading.