So the Klingons have this saying, “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” (Unsurprisingly, but a bit disappointingly, they didn’t coin the phrase. They stole it from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.) Warriors have this credo running in their blood.
What good is life if we merely exist as chemical creations, without letting ourselves shine forth like the miraculous spirit-filled beings we are? The energy we house, the ideas we birth, the inventions, the music, the poetry! We must be free to liberate these things from ourselves, or it is all for nothing. Not all of us have the strength of body or will to fight the good fight for this human cause. For freedom. But there are a special few whose hearts are bursting at the seams with a need to plow the road for others, so that they can live and laugh and love without tethers to an ersatz owner.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NASB) Soldiers have this credo in their veins. The men and women who serve our community and country are all of a special breed. Being willing to die for your fellow citizens is a commitment that few make. Whether storming the beach at Normandy, protecting a village from conquerors, or becoming a human shield for an innocent, the ones in uniform have proven themselves heroes time and again. And as the saying goes, tho all gave some, some gave all. And it is those we honor today.
I served. And tho i never expected the time would come, i did end up in a war zone. I did my job to the best of my ability and i never gave a thought to bailing, even tho, like most of my brothers and sisters who served with me, i didn’t really understand why we were there. And if i had died there, i’d have been pissed. My spirit angry at the emptiness and vanity that comes with the mockery of a calling.
“Any soldier worth his salt should be antiwar. And still there are things worth fighting for.” ~ Norman Schwarzkopf. And this, THIS, is what makes the difference between a mercenary and a hero. A patsy and a protector. If i had died without contributing to a human cause, i would have considered it senseless.
It’s an insult to all who don a uniform and serve to send them to die without cause. To use them as anything but the mighty defenders they are. They are not pawns for corporate needs. They are not leverage for your financial interests. They are vanquishers of those who would terrorize innocents. Do not belittle their importance and significance by using them as sympathy points in the media or distractions from real and true human issues.
The veterans at home now, who are committing suicide in droves, this is what happens when you strip soldiers of their honor. When you pointedly tell them in word and in deed that their actions made no difference. When you rip from them their worth by subjugating the notion they hold most dear. When you shrink their value to little more than a penny on the sidewalk, its triviality so obvious that no one stoops to pick it up.
On this, Memorial Day, i am on fire for my brothers and sisters who gave all and are forgotten. The ones whose importance is diminished by government and bureaucracy who don’t hold dear the responsibilities that our soldiers took on before they were taken back by God/Goddess/Universe to the virtuous gemstone quarry from which they came. They deserve better. Their souls deserve respect. Notice. And in their darkest hours, protection of the masses as they once protected us.
Those of us who have served… Who lost someone in service… Who remember a time when the powers that be thought far more of those who volunteered their lives… It is our turn to say thank you. Not just with a day of remembrance, but with voice and action. Humankind is lucky to have those heroes who walked, unflinching, into the face of darkness and never returned. A little gratitude is not remiss. And the best way to say thank you is to keep any other service member from dying without reason. Take care of those who do return. When they have fought to their last breath, breathe for them. Give them a cause worth sacrificing for, and respite when they are spent. It is the least we can do, but all they ask for. Help our government to remember.
War is an evil thing. Be glad that someone took up arms in your stead, so that you wouldn’t have to live the horrors of it. Especially if you are one who sent them to war in the first place.
Yes, Uncle Sam, i am talking to you.