25 May 2015

Dreamer’s World Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day is here and I am thankful to have served in the United States Navy as one of the chapters in my life. It gave me an opportunity to see the world that I would otherwise have missed. It provided me with stories and memories that I'll never forget, both good and bad. I met people that I am friends with to this day, and others who I never want to see again.
Being in the Navy is different than serving on the ground over the last 70 years. No nation has had the ability to challenge the U.S. Navy at sea since then and actually done so. I was fortunate enough to have served for 10 years without any major conflicts from 1990 until 2000. This means that my focus on this day remains on those who have given their lives to defend this country for over 225 years, rather than on myself.

I like to think that during my time in the Navy that I helped to do what the military is designed primarily to do, and that is to maintain peace. The old saying goes that the military is usually the last group that wants a war for "patriotic" reasons because we were always reminded of the cost of wars fought for any reason. We had voluntarily suspended our right to protest any policies that rehired our services directly, and were simply expected to respond if the nation needed us. Again, this is vastly different from times in the past when the military was called upon in times of national crises or war.
My view regarding war has never changed. It should always be a last resort. War demonstrates a failure of other means to maintain peace. War should NEVER be anything but the last resort. I left the Navy due to family reasons in 2000, so I watched the events of 9/11 as a civilian. The mood of the country changed. War became a primary instrument of foreign policy almost overnight, and patriotism became a catchphrase rather than something that came from within. I never agreed with any military goals other than the apprehension of those responsible for the atrocities of 9/11, what happened instead was a calamity that we are still struggling with.
Having said that, I have never questioned the pride or professionalism of our armed forces. War is still war, and those who have fallen are the same as their predecessors. They deserve our thanks just as much as any who have ever taken up arms for this country. It remains an honor to serve in the military because it does represent a cross-section of our society. I met people from all over this country during my time in the Navy and I am proud to have served with them.

Today we honor those who have served, and we remember those who served to the ultimate degree. Whatever our differences are, they serve and have served to protect those differences, let us never forget that. I also propose that we remember that our military is not the primary instrument of our nation’s foreign policy, and that we work as a nation to reign in the politicians who would rather send the military than to do their own jobs first. I say this having served.

Another part of this day that we should never forget is the families of those who have served. Theirs is a different type of struggle. Military families are a strong breed by necessity. I know of many families that could not cope with the separations or the stress. Those who were fortunate enough to do so should be honored just as much as their service members. The military does instill certain values into it’s members, 90% of these are good, but there are far too many of my Brothers and Sisters who find that life after the military can be difficult to cope with. The best way to describe it is the lack of a constant pressure on oneself. The pressure is intense, but it is a constant background noise while serving. After leaving the military that kind of pressure goes away abruptly, and many of my Brothers and Sisters feel the lack of it keenly. What those on the outside simply believer should be a relief is never felt as such by far too many.

So, as you remember those who have served on this day, try to see past the obligatory flags and parades and speeches, If you see or know a veteran, just say “Thank You” and you will see the gratitude of everyone who has served in their eyes.