Here in the United States, we have this holiday called Memorial Day. On this day, we honor all those who have died serving our armed forces. Because my brain tends to overthink things, it has always bothered me on this fundamental level to have a holiday dedicated to people who died in war. Don’t get me wrong. People who die serving in our armed forces definitely deserve to be honored and remembered. Absolutely. No question.
It’s just I’ve always felt like we do the ultimate goal of our armed services a kind of disservice if we stop there. For example, we should also honor those who return all too often to a world which would rather pretend things like war don’t happen, veterans often left alone to die slowly inside.
This year especially, we should also honor doctors and medical professionals and other front-line workers who have given their lives for us, fighting a battle none of them asked for – in many cases while pleading for better supplies, for more rational and orderly leadership. Basically, the kinds of things many military veterans I’ve known will recognize at once as – yeah wouldn’t that be nice. But still, they answer the call. They do their freaking jobs.
Rather than just paying lip service to these deaths, I think that we would do better still, to carry on the mission in our own small way. Defending freedom. Defending life.
Finding ways to stop the cycle of violence. Finding ways that in no way villainize those felt led to defend us by any means necessary – including violence done in the defense of themselves and others. Because, yeah – that can’t be easy. I wouldn’t know for sure, because I’ve never been called to serve in that way. I’m quite sure I would not be able to deal with those kinds of pressures, because the cracks in my soul run too deep. I know a lot about trauma and impossible choices. And I feel in my heart that this is what our fallen heroes would want, even more than some parade: a better future for their nation and their families.
For what it’s worth, that’s how I would like to honor Memorial Day, in my own small way. With profound respect for those who have died – and profound hope that they have not died in vain.