MDW is the unofficial start of summer for most Americans. Schools are closed & most of us have no work that Monday. (which TBH is cool because who likes Mondays anyway?)
But, while most are out enjoying their reduced schedule, many spend the day thinking about why we have off to begin with: Remembering & honoring those who died while serving in the Armed Forces.
When you sign your name at the recruitment office, you (should) know what you’re getting into, but that doesn’t mean everyone close to you does. Just because family & friends are proud you serve doesn’t mean they’re excited about it. Even those you serve alongside will worry for you as they do themselves. When someone dies while in the line of duty, they have two families mourning them: the one at home & the one out there with them.
(Most) Deployment deaths shouldn’t be particularly surprising in the sense that war causes casualty, but that doesn’t mean death isn’t always heartbreaking, or preventable. When anyone dies, the living suffer for them. When someone in the military dies, their name gets announced, their family gets a flag & every year a reminder of the one they lost in the form of a long holiday weekend.
Every job in the military comes with a some risk. Every life ends in death, that’s simply a fact. However, a very shocking fact is that having a job with the military isn’t considered the most statistically deadly: Fishing & Logging are. It’s also important to note that “on-duty deaths exceeded military deaths in combat.” This first happened in 2011, “but what seemed an anomaly three years ago has become a trend, one that in 2018 seems to be gaining momentum” (source). Regardless, we all know the sacrifices service members when being told to protect the rest of us.
While I’ll do not support the war, I will always support the troops. I support those who joined to make a better life for themselves, especially if they had no other option. I support those who go into each deployment scared as hell. I support the ones who come back & the ones who can’t. I support those who do not renew their contracts & those who retire in their military position. I support veterans, active members & recruits.
What I don’t support is the abuse of recruits & active members. I don’t support the neglect of veterans. I don’t support the racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or otherwise discrimination by members of the military, especially towards their siblings in arms. I don’t support stolen valor, but I also don’t support legitimate military personnel getting belligerent when a company doesn’t offer a military discount. I don’t support flashing your military ID to get out of being held accountable for their wrong doing. I don’t support how much money the military hemorrages. & I certainly don’t support how much more money people in the military make annually than everyone at home (and abroad) working to better this country from the inside. I don’t understand how people could criticize federal spending on human rights like healthcare, but not the military’s black budget. We only need a military like the one we have because of all the damage we’ve done & continue to do.
I am not here to shit on the average, hard working, ethical, common sense having military member. I am here to shit on those forcing them into an unwinnable war against themselves. I am here to hold accountable the higher ups that have endangered those who trusted them. I am here to say enough is enough.
I am here as someone who was just a child during 9/11. Someone who cried at the loss of so many Americans I didn’t know & was questioned for it, as if we shouldn’t be sad because we didn’t know someone directly who died. As a student who participated in active shooter drills. As a preschool teacher who has survived a legitimate threat of violence against my school. As a person who has never lost someone to the war overseas or at home, but always thinks about those who have. As an American:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What to think about when you don’t know why you have a long weekend:
- Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.
- I want you to be alive. You don’t gotta die.
- Salute the ones who died, the ones that give their lives, so we don’t have to sacrifice all the things we love.
- Don’t really care about the things that they say. Don’t really care about what happens to me. I just want to live.