It’s not Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. So what’s this all about? We’ll see. With writing sometimes you start in one place and arrive at another, unexpected, a formation of what you really think. This all started with listening to a podcast episode titled, “Semper Fi,” by Laura McInerny.
Laura McInerny has hit upon something honest, after losing her husband to brain cancer, she had the idea of, “why don’t we talk about how we are really doing at times?” Sure you can’t listen to it all the time because it can be a bit of a downer. But in our “happinesss,” culture where there’s a social expectation to be happy on a daily basis, it’s unrealistic. People ask, “How are you today?” The route answer is, fine, okay, great. Those are the people we are drawn to, that we want to surround ourselves with. But life isn’t always about that is it? And when bad shit happens, isn’t it more healthy to be honest about it and lean on others when needed? That’s McInerny’s point. When bad shit happens, embrace it, talk about it. When water gets deep on the trail sometimes it’s best just to wade on end, take your time crossing it, let the water wash over you and move to the others side.
So back to the Vietnam Memorial. I remember the first time I saw it in Middle School. There was an immediate hushed reverence when you walked down the ramp and were faced with the black granite and all the names. Staring at you while you were staring back. All those that passed. I knew next to nothing about the Vietnam War. I knew my father flew a cargo plane, a C-130, and he was proud of that but he also harbored some darkness around it and those times.
I’ve been to the other memorials, WWII pacific, Korean War, Iwo Jima, however none get it quite right like this one does. You literally can not think about the lives those names represent, ordinary lives trying to make it in this world, just like the rest of us. Those lives got cut short and we have to ask ourselves, was it worth it? Was it worth the sacrifice and loss? That’s the point right there. Borrowing from both the Holocaust mantra and the Texas Revolution and the Alamo… it’s “Least We Forget,” “Remember.” And the hopes are, that in those memories reside a caution and reserve. Before committing ourselves to war and conflict being “policy by other means,” you have to ask yourselves, “Will it be Worth it?”
So no one knows what war is going to be like before going there? How will you react when the bullets are flying? What will it do to you if you lose those around you that are really what you are trying to protect? It’s not the ideal of the flag or a way of life, or doing what you do so the folks back home can sleep safely at night. Those are ideals that getting written about in an idealistic way to justify the sacrifices to elevate the service. No, I think it’s more about the present, living to survive another day, doing everything you can for those around you as you know they’d do for you. Sure World War II there were damn good reasons to commit ourselves. The world lay in balance and there was truly horrible shit that would have kept up if nothing was done. 9-11, Afghanistan. We can’t let the buildings fall and do nothing about it. But the Vietnam’s, the Korea’s, the Iraq’s. Before committing ourselves, walk the wall, look at the names, see the reflection of life going on, stare into the eyes of this young man above and ask, “Is it worth it?”
Least we forget. Remember.