Memorial Day and “Politically Correctness”

Military holidays are always tough for me. I never get it quite right when I want to take a stand. When I was young, maybe 5 or 6, my family watched thedonny1.gifVietnam draft on TV. Numbers scrolled a blue screen. My parents watched with worry, fear, and a look of “say it isn’t so.” My father, the oldest of 4 boys (and 3 girls), was past the age of this draft. He had already served his time. But his brothers were ripe for drafting. One by one, like a clock ticking, each one of my Father’s brothers (my uncles) was drafted. I could feel an anxiety in my parents that said things like: “We have no choice.” “We have to be strong.” “We don’t know yet if we do have anything to worry about.” “This is just the way it has to be for now.” The picture is my brother and me at the airport, sending an Uncle off to Vietnam.

I wondered how this could be the land of the free. But it was certainly the land of the brave.

My nightmares, during that period of my life involved army men in combat — but they weren’t in Vietnam — they were in my neighborhood. The “nightmare” part was that no one could tell who the enemy was. One minute you thought you were with someone to carry you to safety, and then, in the next scene, they were going to kill you. After 911, I wondered if my nightmare was coming true.

  • The first Uncle that was sent to Vietnam, came back unwounded, but changed. A much quieter man. Hurt deeply by whatever it was that he saw.
  • The second Uncle got caught in a land mine. His camp didn’t think he would make it. But he did. No paralysis or life-time disability to battle each day. His wife usually hosts our Thanksgiving feast.
  • The third Uncle — well, I can still see the flag they gave to my Grandmother at the funeral. The red stripes, in a perfectly padded triangle. A pillow that brought us little comfort. The gun shots we heard at the funeral were so unexpected. I felt like someone was blowing my heart out from behind. He was 17.

Several years later, when I was a know-it-all teen, and I had learned something about the political mess of the Vietnam “conflict”, I said that the entire Vietnam mess was a waste. This brought tears to my Father’s Eyes. “Are you saying that my brother’s death was a waste?” I knew my Father thought the war was senseless. I thought I was only echoing what he thought. Apparently, I didn’t get it quite right.

So, I asked my Father, now that decades have past since that exchange, to give me his thoughts on the Veterans. I thought it best to get it straight from him:

It seems many have forgotten those that have been in previous wars.
It seems to me there are far too many that use the excuse. “I did not
believe in the cause.”
We spend so much time with our “different views” that we never get
together to pull together.
We just stretch it out, that way we don’t pull together for the cause.
So our troops are out there fighting for our cause and we are back here
looking for another solution.
If we are still looking for another solution. What are our troops
How can we send our young men to fight when the Democrats and
Republicans are divided?
Just some of my thoughts.
As you can probably see I am not happy about how we support our troops.
Too many fence sitters.
Love Dad

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10 comments to “Memorial Day and “Politically Correctness””
  1. I am confused anymore. I feel so thankful and lucky that others are willing to die to protect us and I wish they didn’t have to.

    I used to feel so smart, so sure of my political viewpoints. Everything used to feel black and white to me. I have a hard time coming down off the fence – I don’t know how to fight ‘terror’ effectively. I pray those who have to call the shots do.

    Our kids will pay the price if we screw up.

    Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts on war. I’m sorry you were touched by the Vietnam war. (Thankfully, my Dad was not drafted.)

  2. Thank you, Susie… this also is a very difficult time for me. My dad was in WW2 and fortunately got in early enough to not see any combat… but he lost one brother, my Uncle, who I never met, when he was one of the first to land on the beaches of France. He was 21. I had other uncles who fought in WW2 and my mom’s brother actually went into one of the first concentration camps in Germany. My brother was in Viet Nam for two tours- he never was the same after that.

  3. Thank you for your Dads words. You should publish those somewhere in DC! This weekend is a special weekend to truly think and thank those who have fought for us. Your Dad is a special man! Thanks for sharing.
    – Audrey
    Pinks & Blues

  4. A touching post, thank you so much. The war in Iraq brings up many difficult memories for these brave people who put themselves at risk to protect us. God bless them all.

  5. What an eloquent post. I grew up in a Navy town and am now a Navy wife. Almost every man in my life as been in the military. I have seen many people go off to this war. I think people get so consumed with fighting if this war is just or not, that they forget there are people over there losing their lives every day. I think our politicians could learn a lot from the men and women who were brave enough to go to war. Especially the ones who have never even been in the military.

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