Citizen Wausau

A Site About Life in Wausau, Wisconsin

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In Honor Of

by on May 24th, 2009

 It is Memorial Day weekend.  A day that is in fact a weekend.  While many of us use this weekend as the start of gardening, or fishing, or cleaning, the nature of the holiday is to be thankful and gracious to those that served in our military.

First off, did you know that Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day?  I have a feeling it sounds better now.

I have had little connection with military folks.  But at no point did I ever not feel amazed by this group of people.  My grandfather fought in WWII and had his hand shot.  It was a constant reminder of what being a soldier is, and the results of it.  My Uncle George also fought in WWII in the European theater (as they say), and he came back scarred forever in a different more internal way.

I have been friends with a man since I was about 16.  His brother went to Vietnam, and he came back changed.  If you asked him today how old he was, he would tell you he is 19.  He is clearly not 19, and I wonder what happened to him when he was 19.

My confession in regards to the military is this, I respect it.  Completely.  Like the job of firefighter.  I am that left wing, anti war, zealot screaming about atrocities and what not.  But, at the end of it all, push comes to shove, a man with a gun standing a post or walking a mission is a hero just for showing up in my book.

In 2009 we live in what many can see as a self serving time.  We all talk about getting ahead, our process, our this or our that.  Few things are directly service anymore, and few more pronounced than being a soldier.  While it is challenging to volunteer at a community garden or be a reading tutor, I think it might be more challenging to be shot at.

Today I went to the large cemetery on Grand Avenue, like I always do.  My grandfather is buried there next to my grandma (for the record we called them Nana and Papa).  I spent a good amount of time walking around, meeting people.  I met about 50 people, or families, and I have to say, it was amazing.  I met people there just cleaning the graves of service people who have no one to clean the graves.  They had no organization, they were just Tim and Karen, and they wanted to do a little bit of good.  They appeared to feel the sacrifice of these veterans deeply, and it was a nice display.

So, on one weekend, I think I would like to once again encourage us to look beyond our own noses.  Beyond the bickering that we all seem to engage in, and just saddle up the best angels of our nature and thank a veteran.  We can return to whatever bickering we want to do, and no one is asking you to put down your perspective, you are more than entitled to that.  But, this one weekend a year, let us just shake hands and say thanks.

When you sign up for the service you join something.  You agree to be a person who protects other people, you are part of a group that protects me.  You defend me.  So, I want to thank you for that.  I know what you do is hard, and I can never thank you enough.  Thank you for shaving your head, doing those pushups, learning whatever they teach you are boot camp and beyond, and thank you for protecting me.

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