Monday, May 30, 2011

Memory Day...

The price of war.  Memorial Day, GTMO 2010.
1.  The last Monday in May is observed as Memorial Day in the United States.
2.  I am the first person in my family to be in the military (to my knowledge).
3.  Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day.
4.  Decoration Day was first observed in 1865.
5.  Memorial Day is the first vacation day from work after Easter (aka spring holiday for those who can't handle religion being "thrown in their faces") for many people.

Additional fact:  Today at quarters (for non-military: a meeting where all enlisted in my dept show up to hear the "good news"), as we said the Sailor's Creed (which we do at the start of every quarters session), it hit me that today was memorial day, and I am but a small part of something much larger.

Teh Mom posted a status update on FB about being grateful to the military, with a shoutout to her daughter (me) who is currently serving.  Teh Dad tried to get ahold of me yesterday also, because they had been thinking about me since it was Memorial Day weekend.

Another Fact:  I didn't join the military to be part of something larger, or to support my country.  I joined because I needed a job.  I'm not ashamed of this.

I don't necessarily agree with all the things we're fighting for, but I don't necessarily disagree either.  I'm very appreciative of all the things that the military has provided for me.  Yes, my life is hard, but there are people that have it worse (always a valid argument).

As I recited the Sailor's Creed with other sailors in my department, I realize that if I was in an actual combat zone (with the bombs and the guns and the outright terrorists), the person standing next to me today, might not be standing beside me in days to come.  And it made me think back...  so many wars, so many lost.  THAT is what we're remembering.  The day for recognizing the armed forces that are still with us is Veteran's Day, its in November.  But I mean, who's complaining about recognition?   

Today is a day to honor those that paid the ultimate price for their service.

Those that died thinking, hell yeah, only 82 more days and I'm out of this desert, or this snowstorm, or this jungle, or this trench.  I'm goin' home and I'm gonna have a beer and enjoy my family.  Those that never got to see their last day, or the end results of their efforts, even if it was just as a mail carrier, cook, mechanic, doc, those jobs that seem small but are necessary to ensure that the military remains functional...

The price of freedom is death.  Death of sons and daughters and husbands and wives and fathers and mothers and friends and even enemies.  Someone who meant something to somebody.

So while we continued saying the Sailor's Creed, I thought about peace.  I thought about the people who had died trying to achieve "peace", which only seems to be a band-aid to the wound.  People who died during the Civil War, WW1, WW2, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, the War on Terror...  People who are AT peace, by paying the price of death, to give their countrymen the gift of rights, to choose war or peace...

So, complain about your gas prices being too high and enjoy your 3 day weekend.  Think about the man or woman who was vigilant and killed the man or woman that could have risen to power and made the wars that we've fought significantly altered where our enemy won instead of us.  Think about soldiers who fought during the Civil War for same rights for all skin colors, about soldiers who froze to death during WW1, about solider's bodies that littered the beaches of Normandy during WW2, about soldiers who have died from cancer or other health reasons from exposure to chemicals used during war (Agent Orange), about the solider who faces a child who has bombs strapped to his body...

Because I'm that American, that never realized what Memorial Day was about until I was in the military.  I knew what it was about, but it was just the free vacation day at the end of May for most of my life.  So I will sit back and think about the gruesome past that allows us the present that we live in.  The price of life for a life.


I am a United States Sailor.

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.

I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.

I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with honor, courage and commitment.

I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.

And despite all those thoughts, we weren't even finished with the Creed yet...  But soon enough, and the day trucked on...

PS.  Excellence comes in difference forms.  Just sayin.


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