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I just wanted  to write this on Veteran's day to commemorate the veterans in my own family and in keeping with the holiday.  In a way, I just kind of wanted to get this off my chest because it's been bugging me all day.  My uncle is a higher up in the military and my mother was in the Air Force.  I also have cousins who've served, and both of my grandfathers served in the Korean war.  It's a family thing.  Like I said, this is a diary to commemorate veterans, but to have a hard discussion about Americans and war.  This is a long post and its a bit heavy, so be prepared.  If you're a veteran reading this, I thank you for your service, and I do not mean these words in an offensive manner at all.

You see, I've never served.

I have never served and I'm probably not going to.  My mother expressly forbids it and my uncle says the military is not for me.  I thought about it still.  It's in the family.  My uncle did three tours (special ops) in Vietnam doing...well crazy shit he can't tell me, my mother ran a relief effort in Indonesia for Vietnamese refugees and my grandfather joined the military to get the hell off the farm.  Yet there I was, across from the military recruiter with a clipboard.  When I was considering signing on the dotted line, I decided it'd be best to know what I was getting into.  You see, I was disgusted with the Iraq war, I wondered why Afghanistan lingered on so long, and I've always hated how Americans, going all the way back to the Spanish war, have been so bloodthirsty and willing to massacre people for inanimate objects, believing somehow that God was on our side or something.  Reagan disgusted me and I saw Republicans as chicken hawks, men who would never go to war and were consumed with fear, but loved the military because it represented everything they lacked as human beings.  I may seem like the least likely person to be sitting across from a military recruiter.  

I'm basically the "evil liberal" you read about in a lot of military blogs, the kind that thinks that war is completely awful.  I weep for Afghan civilians and Iraqi children that will be born with horrible birth defects because of depleted uranium.  I'm not a big fan of Israel.  I think it's good to be critical of military brass and the loss of civil liberties that have resulted from the Orwellian war on terror.  I might come off as hating the military or hating this country, but that's not it.  It really isn't.  I could never hate my uncle or my cousins.  I don't hold stereotypes about the military.  It's not necessarily rich people having poor people fight their battles.  A lot of people in the military have college degrees and do combat duty just because they want to kill the enemy.  When I was sitting across from that recruiter, my research had flooded back into my consciousness and I knew why I would never sign.

Many veterans will come back this year and have mental injuries that will weigh so heavily on their minds that substance abuse or suicide will be their only outlets.  Some will have no limbs.  You see, war is the cessation of civilization.  War is sending little children in with hand grenades knowing they'll be mowed down, using women as shields, baiting the enemy into bombing civilians, and forcing people to fight who do not want to.  War is the arena where people who actually enjoy killing people flourish while those who want to find another way fall by the wayside.  War is where profiteers profit from the bravery and self sacrifice of men after having convinced them that there is an "enemy" coming after them.  War is rape.  War is losing your limbs.  War is accepting the inevitability of your own death and going slowly insane for it.  War is domination.  War is genocide and massacres.  War is watching your friends die.  

I decided not to sign on the dotted line.  I told myself I was too meek, too gentle, too nice.  I couldn't hurt anyone.  Even if they were evil.  Even if they were the Taliban who flung acid into girls faces.  I was too weak.  I'd just be another suicide.  It's not that I believed in pacifism it's just that war wasn't me.  My uncle saw it.  I could never bayonet someone or cheer about getting "my first kill."  I wouldn't be able to recognize myself.  I didn't even believe in the wars.  Why was I even sitting there?  I thought about it.  I felt I wasn't much of a man if I couldn't sacrifice myself for my country.  I also felt it was selfish of me to come up with excuses not to participate when my fellow countrymen were fighting.  You see, even though these are all the negative aspects of war, there are also positive ones as well.  

The military is also about service and brotherhood.  It's about putting others before yourself, even people you don't even know, people who may hate you or misunderstand you.  There are horrible people in the world and they do need to be fought.  I don't weep for Taliban soldiers who terrorize villages.  Civilians do die in the process, but sometimes in the end it's unavoidable.  Being in the military is about doing things that aren't normally possible, and also in many ways bringing hope to people who never had it before.  Nothing is all bad or all good.  

On this Veteran's Day, I pay my respects to thousands of men and women who did serve, who saw and did things that were unspeakable but were also glorious.  These people deserve a day of remembrance and for us to do just as the President has called us to do, to remember them and to make a pledge to them to fulfill all of our promises to them.  I have never served.  I may in fact never serve.  Whether or not this reflects negatively on my character is my own personal battle, but on this day, you have my full support.

Thank you for your service.

Originally posted to sujigu on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 05:42 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Beautiful -- thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otteray Scribe, Shirl In Idaho

    "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

    by MartyM on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 05:47:30 PM PST

  •  My impression of the event (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "This Veteran's Day brought to you by Applebees, the NFL, and the good folks at Miller Beer"

    and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

    by le sequoit on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 03:58:54 AM PST

  •  You don't have to join the military to serve. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, Delta Overdue, No Exit

    I was in the military.  Looking back, I probably would not do so again.  Now I'm a federal employee, and I love it.

    Federal employees aren't often given credit for what we do and indeed are often maligned by the right, but  I will tell you that I feel a much greater sense of public service in what it is I do now then I did when I was in the Army.

    Here are some wonderful ways you can both serve your counrty, begin a career, and pick up some really kick ass experiences along the way, all without having to take up arms:

    U.S. Peace Corps


    National Park Service

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:30:01 AM PST

    •  Haha I know :P (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Apost8, BOHICA

      I teach middle school, so in a way I feel I'm doing my part.  It's just when you're in a family where manhoood=military it gets a little hard to think that way.

      Romney/Caligula 2012!

      by sujigu on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:42:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh believe me, that was a major reason I joined. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And it's not a good reason to join.  That's doing something to make someone else happy, and I have learned the hard way, several times, that that does not lead to your own fulfillment.  It's a very real pressure, but one best not entertained in my experience/opinion.

        "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

        by Apost8 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:48:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Also consider (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the U.S. Coast Guard.

      In the military, we trained, and trained, and trained...and did a lot of what we call "shit details," which are essentially bullshit chores designed to keep you occupied.  Aside from that, it often felt like a waste of time.

      The Coast Guard however is a much more functional organization in that they put their training to use almost everyday saving lives and actually defending our country.  You could also gain extremely valuable and marketable skills working in the marine industry (e.g., vessel operation and maintenance, commercial diving, etc) depending on what your job is.

      "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

      by Apost8 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:46:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  glorious? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No Exit
    who saw and did things that were unspeakable but were also glorious.
    There's many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell.
    General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1880
    Repentant ex member of Murder Inc.
    Southeast Asia Division

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:02:10 AM PST

    •  Here, have a poem. For Veterans Day, known as (0+ / 0-)

      Remembrance Day elsewhere, and also apropriate for Memorial Day:

      In Flanders Fields

      In Flanders fields the poppies blow
            Between the crosses, row on row,
         That mark our place; and in the sky
         The larks, still bravely singing, fly
      Scarce heard amid the guns below.

      We are the Dead. Short days ago
      We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
         Loved and were loved, and now we lie
               In Flanders fields.

      Take up our quarrel with the foe:
      To you from failing hands we throw
         The torch; be yours to hold it high.
         If ye break faith with us who die
      We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
               In Flanders fields.

      -John McCrae
      Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel, WW I

      For my Dad (USAF, WW II) and my father in law (MM, WW II)

      I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

      by tom 47 on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:35:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How did the military (0+ / 0-)

    vote this time around? Does anyone know where to find those stats?

  •  i served (0+ / 0-)

    I was a viet nam protester before I enlisted. There was that looming possibility of being drafted however. So though I was opposed to the war, I signed up, hoping that possibly the military knew more than I and that I was truly needed.

    Since the nations of the world never did fall, domino style, to communism as was argued at the time, i now realize the military did not know more than I did.

    Nevertheless, I served and am glad I did. What annoys me now is the number of people who routinely thank me for my service when, at the time, no one did. I do not mean you in this criticism, but I went to a wedding this weekend and my buddy from the air force thanked me. He also served, yet the phrase now seems so empty to me, as if done by rote like a prayer wheel or something.

    Perhaps, I have simply become too jaded by life.

    •  Interesting I have the same reaction (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I served 21 years in the AF.  I was at a meeting on Wednesday and started talking with a man there.  He had served 3 years, and suspect it was during Vietnam.  He said Thank you for your service.  I replied the same.

      Until you posted above, I wasn't sure why that seemed strange.  Although, I do prefer that than the other choices of avoiding discussing military service or out and out dislike.

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