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Monday, May 28, 2012
Happy Memorial Day
I hope everyone in the USA is enjoying the finale of the long weekend. It the official start of summer and possibly one of the biggest grilling days of the year, but first and foremost, it’s a day we honor our fallen heroes. What started in this country as a day to remember those who died during the Civil; War, became a day to honor soldiers who’d died in all wars defending our country and those who’d passed that had fought and come home. My grandfather, his brothers and my great-great-uncle, youngest of the family and their contemporary, all served in World War 2.
There are three different kinds of heroes from the Vietnam War in the next generation. My father and uncle were not born in America and were not citizens during the Vietnam war. My Uncle served and my father wanted to but was not accepted because of a childhood injury. He was disappointed because he wanted to serve for his home. He became a Naturalized American in the early 70s. I consider them both heroes of that war because of the willingness to fight to protect their country, one in which they didn’t even have a vote.
The other hero was my mother. Mom had told me that she and Pop disagreed about that war and that if she didn’t have a family, she probably would have ended up in San Francisco or another gathering of protesters. Instead, she was home with her young children, listening to the protest songs on the radio and teaching about peace and that a non-violent approach is always best. She also taught about freedom and being able to disagree without hate.
I don’t really have an opinion on those views or how they fit with the times. What I do know is this: The men and women who serve to defend our interests, serve to defend our freedom, our government which is by the people and for the people. They fight for our rights, which include the right to disagree with the government and be vocal without fear of retribution. If we are violent, even just disrespectful, to our own citizens who voice disagreement, we are disrespecting the very men and women we honor today. Think of that as we enter into this election season. Violence, disrespect and name-calling have no place in debate. Honor our heroes today, but don’t dishonor them by attempting to block safe exercise of those rights. Every opinion is American because being American is being able to have a difference of opinion. Your right is not to bully anyone into agreeing with you. Our right, our responsibility, is to speak up when we think something is wrong and to do so peacefully, acting on and voting our own informed conscience.
Enjoy the barbecue, but remember what this day is all about and honor them every day.