Here’s a funny story...more of a giggle “Ha!” than a laugh factory, but it’s still a worthy tale none the less. Not to mention it’s all true, every bit of it I know. I was there.
When I was young and found out that my grandfather was in WWII I asked him what he did. He told me that he was a flier in the Pacific theatre, but he never wanted to elaborate. Told me that those things were best forgotten, and that Grandma’d have his hide if he told me.
What was I going to say? First off it’s my grandpa and second in my family Grandma has always had all of the power. A matriarchal oligarchy of sorts with all final judgments and decisions resting in Grandma. Who, whilst wearing an apron and cooking something or other in the kitchen of a trailer house that was old twenty years ago, passes down judgment on all things, and if she said not to talk about it, well that was law.
I know. I know I’m taking poetic license with the terms here, but hey, it’s my blog and you’re still reading it. Now we jump ahead some 30 years Grandpa’s gone, and I’m forty years old. Just a few months ago I went to visit Grandma, and finally got the courage up to ask her the same question that I had asked him and that had kept me up at night wondering.
By the way we’re in the same kitchen and she’s still wearing that apron:
“Hey Grandma. Wasn’t Grandpa in WWII?”
“Wasn’t he a flier in the Pacific?”
At this point she put her hands on her hips, closed one eye and shook her finger at me. I was suddenly 10 years old again with a baseball bat and a broken window, staring at my feet.
“Is that what he told you?”
“Yes, ma'am,” still looking at my feet.
“Well, that man. He was a cook, and was far from the front lines. He heard battles, but was never in one.”
OK, now I think this is a funny story because my entire life I’d been thinking that my grandfather had been a pilot. Which didn’t really mesh with his personality, but what the heck, people change as they get older. One thing he did do was tell a good tale; whether that was fishing or the war I guess exaggeration was a part of all of them. Now you know where I get it from.
Today is ‘Memorial Day’, a national holiday for remembering. In Canada this same holiday is called ‘Remembrance Day’; different names and dates but the same idea. Taking a day to learn about what happened to think about how and why it happened, and perhaps on how stupid we all are. I hate having to think about war and its consequences. I hate watching movies that boost the national pride and propagate hatred of another country and her citizens just because they aren’t us.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,”
...then there is a need for citizens to organize and do something.
I love history. There are so many twists and turns that it simply amazes me. If one person made one different decision how would things be different now? From ancient civilizations to modern times it all fascinates me. I wonder. Do you think if we, as humans, were to really look at the colors and characters of our separate cultural histories would we find how closely knit we all really are? When you look at global human history it seems we all have the same needs, right? They’re all so similar: births, deaths, inventions, war, peace, agrarianism, gods/goddesses/faith. It’s all there in the first place to provide for something we have a need for, or it wouldn’t be I suppose.
What does this have to do with Memorial Day?
Well presumably that’s what all the fighting is about: providing some great need in society. Whether that be just as simple as marking one’s place in history, i.e. immortality, or providing for the physical needs of a people, i.e. food, water, freedom of thought and expression. (Yes I did just list that as a need).
To sacrifice one’s whole potential existence for the ‘greater good’ of our global needs is indeed worthy of remembrance.
To sacrifice one’s whole potential existence for the greater good of society or of providing for society’s needs is indeed worthy of remembrance.
Thank you to all the soldiers everywhere for believing enough to put down the normal workings of citizenry become soldiers and march through fear, death, blood and guts for the potential betterment of society.
Thank you for coming home and becoming citizens again, becoming parents and grandparents, telling stories and living.
But now that we’re on this side of history and making more of it to just lay back and be apathetic in our government both local and national is like a slap in the face of all those that have gone on before. There are still needs to provide for and challenges to overcome as we move on generation to generation.
We all have similar responsibilities whether we are soldiers or citizens in that we are the government and as such it is an awesome challenge to steer this vessel in the right direction.
In the end I come back to my grandpa the cook and the greatest fisherman I’ve ever known. Whatever our job may be it is important and needed.
Thank you all for doing the job you were called to do....
Thank you for taking up the mantle of your calling and as it is in too many cases, thank you for dieing....I wish it wasn’t necessary.
Remembered, not forgotten.