The sound of taps seeped from the iPhone– tinny and analog; yet it still pierced the spirit of many who stood weeping and at attention towards the flag at half mask. Memorial day: Honoring those who died, those who sacrificed so much. No greater respect should be bestowed upon any except those who have served.
Some go for the honor of fighting for freedom, for the love of country; while others go because they have no other economic options. But regardless of motive war has a way of leveling the playing field. Fear knows no bias. Courage no class. Death no bribe.
The sadness of it all. Men have fought for generations, for county, for freedom, and some for the sake of fighting. Did they know, really know, what they were getting into. Certainly not the eighteen year olds drafted, conscribed to service, some to death. But yet most go willingly, proudly. They know they could die, and they do it anyway. Something bigger than themselves, a higher purpose, a righteous call for the good of the whole, and a respect for the next generation – lifts them out of selfishness propels them into selflessness.
For many surviving troops, their time in the military is a seminal moment in their lives. Four years, two tours, or a career – it shapes them into who they are today. They never again quite feel that community, that empowerment of being part of something bigger than themselves, that camaraderie, that union, that clarity of mission. Never again do they feel as alive, fully present, with all senses pumping, and adrenaline flowing. And never again do they experience such horrific smells, and hellish sights. Never again do they witness atrocities that sicken their soul and eat at their humanity.
There is a place in their psyche for these grisly experiences. Some take the lessons learned and turn them into a positive force – they embrace the camaraderie and shun the atrocities. For others the experiences play in a never ending loop in their minds. Some lock them up, and destroy the key — only to find them creeping into their consciousness at a smell, a sound, or color.
We owe a generational debt to our troops and veterans. For what would the world be today if Hitler dominated the world. Or if the Burka became mandatory and status of women reverted to property. If our children, grand children and great grand children lived in a world without freedom, without dignity, without rights, and in constant and real fear of suicide bombers and gas attacks.
There should be no higher respect afforded to any but a veteran.
A sincere thank you for your service, for your sacrifice, and for the sacrifices of your family.