Memorial Day brings about mixed feelings for me.
I am the third generation to serve in the military. My grandfather served in the Army Air Core, my Father was in the Air Force and I served in the Air Force.
I am very aware of the history that the military brings with it, and I do think that it is important to honor the sacrifice of those who came before us. To this day I can easily put myself back in the moment when I first swore the oath to serve my country.
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
I still maintain the first part of that oath. I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
When I took that oath I had almost an out of body experience. It was as if I were standing with all of the men and women who have served under that oath and all of the men and women who had yet to take the oath. I thought that if I turned around I would not see a room full of frightened young adults embarking on a new life, but rather a sea of service members. In that moment I became an Airman, and everything else became second to that.
Through my service I also came to have a deep and abiding respect for the people who served before, especially the women. I was very aware of the sacrifices that were made that allowed me, as a female, to serve on the flight-line. I am very aware of the fact that my freedoms are not free. And I am aware that there are more that I am fighting for.
So on this day I do recognize and honor the dead who are responsible for my freedom.
So why mixed feelings? Because I see Faux Patriotism, and I see a large show that feels empty to me. I walked through a cemetery filled with new flowers and hundreds of flags. And I know, that in 3 months those flowers will be faded, falling apart and cluttered. Many of the flags will disintegrate and no one will notice. They will lay on the ground, and they will rot away.
I walked through the graves and I saw every service member grave had a flag, and the majority of the graves in general had new flowers. But non service men and women were not honored with flags. And while I understand the purpose of memorial day, I question “Was that person less a patriot? Did they do less for their country?” Was the mother who supported her children as they went off to war, and never saw them again less of a patriot? Was the father who worked long hours to create a better life for his children, less of a patriot? Were the people who lived ordinary quiet lives, and when the time came voted for what was right do less for my freedom?
I served with men and women who felt as strongly as I did that we were part of the thin blue line. We were defending our country from enemies foreign and domestic, and there was a pride in that service. And I served with men and women who were there because it was a job. I have known men and women who never put on a uniform who have helped preserve freedom through their ordinary lives.