Friday, May 25, 2012

War Veterans Know The Meaning Of Memorial Day

This weekend normally signifies the unofficial start of the summer season. Many schools have completed their scholastic year or are enjoying their last long weekend before the year ends within the next week or two.

It's mid-spring and the weather is warmer and milder. Many people enjoy a three-day or four-day weekend, taking trips, holding outdoor parties, hitting the theme parks, and enjoying sales at Khol's, Walmart, Office Max, Sears, Famous Footwear, or Best Buy.

However, among many veterans such as myself, the day holds a much different meaning. the original purpose of the day invokes different desires in how we spend the day. Instead of beaches and theme parks, we flock to military cemeteries and war memorials. Those memorials are where the name for the holiday derives. While veterans' day is a day to honor those who served and/or are still serving in the forces that defend our great nation, the US Constitution, and our way of life; Memorial day is a day set aside to pay respects to our honored fallen. It is a day to thank those who made that ultimate sacrifice to preserve the ideals most of us hold so dear.

Since I retired, I have become more openly vocal about my conservative and libertarian ideals. Those morals were planted and took root under the careful upbringing my Marine Vietnam veteran father instilled. But they blossomed and came into their own, fully formed in my individual, free-thinking mind during my 24 years of military service. There is this great document we in military service give a sacred oath to support and defend against all enemies:  The US Constitution. I find it rather irresponsible to take such an oath without knowing what we swear to support an defend. So, I have read that document at least once a week since 1987 when I first took that oath. Now, there are those in our country who work to destroy the very foundation of that document and attempt to dismiss the writings it was based upon:  The Federalist Papers and the writings of philosophers Paine, Locke, Montesquieu, and Aristotle (among others). They prefer tyrannic oligarchies or totalitarian governments such as those depicted in Plato's Republic, Moore's Utopia, etc.

We, the war veterans, believe in the founding principles of the US Constitution so strongly that we were willing to fight for them. War is a last resort. However, once it comes to that last resort, it is necessary. Unfortunately, it means some end up paying that ultimate sacrifice. I have lost many friends and acquaintances in conflicts over the years. I have also lost heroes such as Shugart and Gordon, whom I wrote about in what has become my most read article.

My hair gets up when people speak ill of our heroes. That was the primary reason I refused to support Ron Paul, even more than his incompetence in international relations. During one of the debates, he referred to the wars as "useless" and "wasted". That means that those who fought did so in vain. That means that those who paid that ultimate sacrifice were "cheap lives" and "worthless". I find that unforgivable. My life is not worthless. The lives of my friends were not in vain. They were in defense of our country and our way of life. they were sacrificed for the greater good of overthrowing tyrants and kicking the wolf at the gates back into his den, then kicking it again. They were far from "useless" or "wasted".  

I urge everybody to take an hour or two out from your revelry and visit a war memorial or a military cemetery. I urge you to say prayers for our fallen, their families, and our country they fought to the death to protect. Go lay a wreath, plant a flag, or put flowers on a grave. Write a blog or a poem. Show them they are not forgotten. Let the world know these brave men and women are appreciated and still loved.

In the process, read my earlier blogs about our fallen and the great men and women I knew. There were hundreds I knew. So here is a very, very short list to start:

Chris Seifert
Yari Mokri
Derek Dobogai
Schuyler Haynes