Today I honor the veterans from my family. My beloved Grandpa Russell, who fought the Nazis in World War II. His experiences quieted him. He never once spoke to family about his time in the army and I can only guess at why. Did he want to shelter his family from the horrors of war? Or to keep his life compartmentalized, safe? I remember him as a quiet, friendly, laughing man who always went into his study alone with a newspaper and a pipe and watched the news, then M*A*S*H. Sometimes I joined him. Thank you, Grandpa Russell.
Then there was Sylvanus Hulet, Revolutionary War soldier. I don’t know too much about him. But his name, meaning forest grove, makes me happy. I hope he had a good life.
Today I’m thinking about the values the Revolutionary War soldiers fought for and how far we have strayed from them. “No taxation without representation” feels especially ironic. For one reason or another, there a re a lot of folks who must pay the price for the actions of our representatives, but who cannot themselves vote. As for freedom? We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. And many people, these days, go to prison without the benefit of a jury trial. The wars we fight are no longer for freedom or to save the world from the Nazis.
When it comes to veterans who fought in wars I find unjust, my feelings are complicated. But today I honor them too. They come home with scars I can only imagine. They risked their lives for what they thought was right. Or they fought without choice. I blame the people in charge, who sent them into a bad war.
May we all find peace and justice.