In Honor of Memorial Day

sotuIn honor of Memorial Day, I’d like to share some stories and experiences from myself, my friends, and my father. Memorial Day is a hallowed day, a day when we remember the members of our Armed Services who died in combat. My family has served in the military since the Revolutionary War, and we are extremely proud of that legacy. There are many, it would seem, who do not share that pride.

I have heard people say that people who join the military are “murderers,” monsters, whose sole intent is to kill. Sort of a giant, sanctioned organization for psychotic sociopaths; that’s what these people see when they look at a man or woman in the military. And these people do not think we should have Memorial Day, or Veterans Day, because to them, that serves no purpose. And my friend Jennifer, a veteran herself, ran into one such person over Memorial Day weekend. Jennifer gave me permission to share what she posted Facebook, after reading this person’s comments:

Some douchecanoe on a friend’s wall just referred to our military members as “government trained killers,” and made some other pretty disgusting comments about servicemembers. He also believes that we shouldn’t have holidays like Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, because to do so just perpetuates what he perceives as the “worship of killers.” Additionally, he believes it’s ridiculous that anybody should thank a vet for his/her service, because we’re just horrible, brainwashed, murdering scumbags, don’t you know (not his words, but that was the gist)?

I saw red. Literally.

If somebody feels that way about past and present servicemembers, that’s his/her right, I suppose. But, it’s also my right to think folks with that attitude are assholes.

Jennifer went on:

While it is true that we are trained to kill, that is never the primary function of a servicemember. Our primary function is defense and deterring war by our presence. In some fields, such as mine and my husband’s, our primary mission is saving/helping people. 

As a medic/rad tech, I saved lives, and comforted the dying. Even medics in war zones, perform those same functions on any human, regardless of what “side” they are on.

As an MP/CID agent, my husband has saved lives, protected victims, and found justice for both victims and the family members of victims. When he was in Iraq, he sat for hours in a blood soaked car next to an armed, very unhinged man who had just killed another, and was threatening to kill more and take his own life. Because of Aaron, only one person died that day instead of several. He’s a hero in every sense of the word, not a “government trained killer.”

I was trained to kill in basic, but my AIT was 71 Lima-an administrative specialist. My grandfather, a Naval officer, never killed anyone, and neither did my father, also a Naval officer. I never killed anyone, and very few of my friends who are either active or veterans ever killed anyone.  A sniper did kill my father’s best friend, though. I remember him on Memorial Day.

Phil Robinson was a tall young man, who wanted to be a teacher. He and my father were stationed together in San Diego, and my mom had a very funny story about Phil. Phil had been invited to dinner, and my mom made a chocolate mousse from scratch. Made the whipping cream from scratch, too. After dinner, Phil took a bit of the mousse, looked at my mom, and asked “Is this Dream Whip?” Then he laughed. Phil was one of the first people to learn my mom was pregnant with me. From what I’ve been told, Phil Robinson was an amazing guy.

Phil Robinson was killed by a sniper in Vietnam, about a month before I was born. My dad took me to the Vietnam Memorial, and while I stood a few feet back, he found Phil’s name. His fingers trembled as they brushed the dark stone of that wall. Surrounding me were veterans, families, and at the base of the wall, I watched a young girl gently place a teddy bear while her mom used a pencil and paper to transfer the name of someone she loved. A group of bikers, arms around one another’s shoulders, saw me crying, and inclined their heads to me, as if to say “We’re all here together.” It was one of the most profound moments of my life.

In honor of Memorial Day, I remember my friends from basic training who died in Iraq. Especially one. She was funny, and brave, and a really good friend. And she never killed anyone. But she died in a desert, thousands of miles away from home. When we met at the reception station, neither of us had slept in almost a day. We were nervous, and excited, and exhausted. We formed a bond that night, that lasted through basic. We collapsed on the grass together after making it through the “gas house,” and laughed through our tears as members of Alpha tried to crawl out the windows to escape the gas. You see, we were in Echo, comprised of girls, and Alpha was comprised of boys. I miss her terribly.

So, if you think like the “douchecanoe” Jenn bumped into online, you might want to reconsider your position. May I suggest Front Leaning Rest for a few hours? Because as correct as Jenn is, that you have the right to your position, I agree that you’re not only a “douchecanoe,” but also an asshole. Steve Snyder-Hill never killed anyone, my father and grandfather never killed anyone, and as far as I know, Phil Robinson never killed anyone. Neither Jenn or her husband ever killed anyone.

Memorial Day is a day to remember the dead. Families visit graves and memorials, stories are shared to the younger generations about relatives who gave their lives serving our country. I remember Phil Robinson. I remember watching my father’s hand freeze when he found Phil’s name. And I remember how, when I was dropped by a drill sergeant in basic for smoking on the company street, my friend dropped right along with me. She didn’t have to do that, especially given how hot the asphalt was, but she did it anyway, as a sign of support and camaraderie.

To all who have served, especially my father, I salute you. To all who have died while serving, I mourn you and remember you. Make Memorial Day a day of remembrance and honor. Hooah.

Erin Nanasi

Erin Nanasi is the creator of The Bachmann Diaries: Satirical Excerpts from Michele Bachmann's Fictional Diary. She hates writing about herself in the third person. Erin enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. And wombats. Come visit Erin on on Facebook. She also can be found on Twitter at @WriterENanasi.


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