Memorial Day Heroes; Veterans

It is interesting to look up the definition of “Hero”.   Classical definitions include ‘someone of extraordinary courage and strength’, or ‘a defender or protector’. It was used to hail knights and soldiers for the valiant courage in times of war. And then it changed.

Soldiers became sullied with the advent of the 1960’s. They were vilified and attacked. We need a hero, but with the classic military soldier now seen as a villain, there was no replacement. And within that void, more and more cartoon, fantasy heroes came to be created by Hollywood, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, etc… These ‘characters’ became our heroes as we desperately sought a demigod.

We put our faith in a comic book.

And our true heroes, our veterans who sacrificed everything, were shunned.

My father was a part of the Nevada Nuclear tests during the 1950’s in which officers were ordered to stand at attention as the bombs were detonated, washing them in massive amounts of radiation. Enlisted soldiers were told to take cover in the trenches.

Years later, all these officers found that their systems had been irreversibly damaged with various forms of cancer. They all died. My dad included. My father was career. He held to the loyalty of the military and honorably upheld the moral and ethical belief that he had participated in something that was beyond ‘self’.   He sacrificed his very life for the benefit of all Americans signing on for all the associated risks – which included WWII. He believed that it was his duty, and the ramifications were a part of the calling.

While his politics changed during retirement, his loyalty never budged a smidgeon.

I believe with all my heart that we have a duty, a responsibility, an ethic, and a heartfelt requirement, to take care of every single military veteran in every way we possibly can. But it seems that the true understanding of their sacrifice has somehow been obliterated. We honor super heroes that are a fantasy and demonize flesh and blood war heroes.

When my Green Beret brother returned from his third tour of duty in Vietnam he was pelted with tomatoes as he disembarked the plane. The attitude of the 1960’s and 1970’s, our very own generation, lives on today. Now, Hollywood provides us our heroes and too easily we get caught in their web.

I share the belief of peace. I share the belief of tolerance… albeit within logic. But I believe our media has helped to portray our soldiers, our military, for their failures, instead of their honor and accomplishments.

As with the woman at the well, ‘who can throw the first stone’?   Are we not all guilty of heinous grievous hurts?   So how can we absolve ourselves and not absolve others? Truly, there exist degrees.  Meaning the concept of equal responsibility in hurts and guilts just isn’t reality. Sometimes it is quite lopsided.

In that light, whether you agree with the various wars that our veterans have fought is not important, what is important is recognizing that their heart, their conscience, and their ideal, was directed at a much larger picture; protecting you and you and you. And in that, they were willing to die for – you…!  Not on a movie screen, but on a battlefield, desperate, in agony, leaving behind their family, and their life.

This fundamental ethic applies not just to our military acceptance, but to our lives in every aspect that we pursue each and every day.   My brother, who was pelted by his compatriots, is now spending his retirement years helping Christian women who are being wrongfully divorced and/or demonized by their soon to be – ex-husbands.

He continues unabated to do what is right, what is noble, what will bring help to those in desperate need.

My brother deals with the hypocrisy of hearts daily.  But his house is built on rock, and the grass that holds the water of life is rooted in deep rich soil.  Without that rich soil, the shoots and blades of grass haven’t the ability to absorb the nutrients and water, and instead the essence of life pools on the surface never penetrating, never being.  The grass wilts, and dies no matter how much water is continually added.

Talking the good talk is worthy only if one walks the good walk too. God knows this, and thus asked of those judging the woman at the well, who among you are without sin?

This Memorial Day, I honor the talk and walk of my father who gave his life, and my brother who offered his life, and all those I have known throughout my life as an Army brat. Lastly, I would add, the son of my friend Brian who recently sacrificed his life as he fought for ours in the war against ISIS.  He gave everything he had – for us and should be hailed a hero.

TO THE REAL LIFE HERO’S – EACH ONE! WE LOVE YOU!

Thank You So Much For Giving Everything – For the sins of us…

Memorial Day – To My Daddy

Dear Daddy,

I wanted to thank you for sacrificing your life, your health, your honor, your emotions, your heart, your limbs for this country that we call the Land of The Free. I wanted you to know that everything you did ‘mattered’, it made a difference, it gave hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions the chance to live when you had to die.

I wanted to say that the burning hole that filled your heart was not in vain and that despite the vagrancies of a few self consumed children, there are many, more than many, who truly appreciate that you gave your life so that we could live. Do not be grieved. Do not be fearful that we are a fallen country, that your sacrifice was in vain, for even if you saved one life, it was more than anyone else can claim. What we seem to have forgotten is that to save even One, is worth the consequence of that action.

I wanted to say that even though you had such a short life, and you had such high spirits to find salve for the brokenness inside you, you made a huge impact on one life – mine. When I am down, I think of you. When I am in trials, I think of you. When I am melancholy, I look at your picture and I find peace. You were an amazing dad. An amazing man.

You were stricken with multiple cancers. You suffered miserably. Your heart was broken by the terror you witnessed, and yet, you were able to try and put it behind you, more pain, more suffering, more violence than most experience in twenty lifetimes. Thank you daddy. I wish I could soften that pain.

I think of you every day even though you passed nearly forty years ago. I think of how you were my personal savior, my hero, my strength, my rock amidst the storms. I miss you terribly and wish you could help guide me through my own trials, but take comfort in knowing that you are still with me in spirit, if not in the physical form.

Thank you daddy.

I know that sometimes you had fun while serving this country, sometimes you found humor, and sometimes you found death and hardship, but you persevered – until God took you while you were yet so young, I know that you watch over me every single day of my life. I want you to know that your sacrifice means everything to us even if some of us don’t see it – but have patience, one day, I believe they will come around and see how much you gave for them, for me, for all of us. One day, they will come to understand that each man is unique to his calling, and that while there are the few who fail, there are many more who are so incredibly self sacrificing, so giving, so focused on making this world a place of good, that the Hillarys and the Obamas and the Bills and the Nixons and the Jacksons, and the Johnsons, well they are just a fly to be swat in the scheme of things. They are nothing. The proverbial specks of sand…

I wish you could be here today with your grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great-great grandchildren! What a legacy you have created, a vine of love, and of honor and of respect, that I can not ever be anything but humbled by your heart.

Thank you daddy.

I wish I had been older and wiser and could have asked you more questions, and listened harder, learned deeper and held your hand more often. I wish I could have you near me now in my trials and ask for your advice. I will forever hold you as my hero, and will try to honor your name through my children, their children, and for generations beyond. I will pass on everything I know in stories and anecdotes and hopefully, your memory will be passed for eternity to come.

Dear Daddy, I really wish you were here with me today, because I’ve made so many stupid mistakes and I think maybe I would have been better if you had been there to guide me and set my path straighter. Because right now it really, really sucks.

I wish the military had been brighter and more compassionate toward their people. I wish that you had not been a guinea pig in the Nevada nuclear tests. I wish that I could have learned more than the whisper of time I was given. I wish you could have had the wishes you wished for in your life and that maybe I could have shared some of those with you.

But most of all – I wish you were here with me today to take away the pain and make it right like you always did – because you were my – hero. And I miss you so terribly.