Monday, May 28, 2007

For Today

Many of you have probably been watching, as I have, a lot of coverage this weekend of our troops, past and present. The television has been awash with stories of their heroism, their sacrifice and the sacrifices made by their families at home. It is always stunning for me to be slungshot back to a position of actual perspective, to have my "Why do people have to honk their horns ALL the time around here?" complaints and grievances shown for what they are. Television can be great at this, if it tries to be, and watching "60 Minutes" last night, as well as a few other shows, including "Gene Simmons:Family Jewels", for chrissakes, brought a lot of things home, once again.

It is within that context of a weekend of well deserved and much needed memorializing that I came across this video, posted at the Crossfit site by a guy in uniform. I thought it was a fine addition to everything I saw this weekend, and I hope you do too.


  1. Anonymous3:22 PM EDT

    This video cements the fact that you and I are on completely different ends of the spectrum in appropriate/acceptable ways to honor those who have made sacrifices, or lost their lives, for the sake of freedom!

  2. Well I suppose each spectrum needs it's end points, and if I am the red to your violet, so be it. I tried to contextualize it as a complement to, not a replacement for or an equal to the more somber, traditional tributes I noted in the paragraphs above.

    Thus the use of the phrase " the context of..."

    Perhaps I was too subtle.

    Let's review:
    From the Compact OED:
    context--the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea

    So I guess what I mean is that after a weekend, strike that, FOUR YEARS of pretty much daily pictures in the paper, weekly lists of dead each Sunday on "ABC's This Week", shows such as "Over There" with its brutally deadpan depiction of lives here and in Iraq shredded, just shredded, and a weekend of excellent shows such as "60 Minutes" devoting a full hour to one story about a Gaurd unit and how war is ripping their families apart and crushing their morale, along with a few books you may have seen on this site or many others, books like "Blood Money" and "Fiasco" and "In the Company of Soldiers" and "Generation Kill" and "Dispatches" and "Going after Cacciato" and "The Things They Carried" and "D-Day, June 6th 1944" ...maybe after one had eaten and digested that whole shit sandwich of War, especially Ridiculous, Needless War, a sandwich let's call...ohhh...The Context...maybe, just maybe, during these three days of remembering the dead, it might be nice to take five minutes and remember something else...

    Perhaps it would be-within that...umm...context-permissible to remember for Five Minutes the single most important thing about these war dead:

    They were not always so.

    They were once alive. Usually very young. Full of Life...BURSTING with it. Honorable, yes. Dutiful and brave and resolute, of course. But also loving and funny and yes, sometimes laughing and goofing around and trying to make the best of a hellish situation.

    I do not believe bringing attention to that fact, in context, is inappropriate, (I don't have to worry about "unacceptable" because my name's on the door).

    That is one difference between our positions.

    The other is I put my name behind mine.

  3. cencispice6:22 PM EDT

    It was interesting to watch this video after spending the weekend with my WWII vet grandfather.
    He is a stoic, lovely man. For my entire life, everyone that has met him thought him to be the sweetest, kindest and gentle of any man you may meet.
    A few years ago, he began to tell us his war stories. Usually one on one, quietly and with great sadness. I had never seen this great man weep until the stories began to pour out of him.
    Inevitably, mingled with horror, there were funny stories, happy moments. I can't help but watch this video and think back to my heroic grandfather that needed these light moments to endure the horror he witnessed everyday.

    It is a fitting tribute....these are and were our young men and women.

  4. I was fully prepared to comment with (in fact, was half-way through composing) a long-winded tangent complete with "bringing your flag out of mothballs," "drug-addicted, homeless veterens," and my always present Yankee Doodle reference, but I have decided to exercise as much restraint as I am capable of and say, I think it was a good counterpoint to the more traditional ways many of us choose to recognize this day.

  5. Well-said, Don, as usual.

    I have no personal, ahem, context for mourning our military, nor do I have much of a perspective on the kind of person who would put him/herself in harm's way to protect one's country and ideals. I have the utmost admiration for those who do; however, I don't personally know anyone who has done so. Seeing this video strangely helps me relate to these people a bit more. It's a reference to an SNL skit that I've enjoyed, so I get it. Bravery, heroism, regrettably I don't get. Humor, I do, so in addition to my admiration, gratitude, compassion and awe, these men and women (boys and girls too) have now inspired my amusement and a more human connection for me.

    Lighten up, anonymous. Obviously we all need some laughter to get through. Imagine the enjoyment their families would have gotten from that video, seeing that they were amusing themselves in a horrible situation.

  6. Anonymous7:30 PM EDT

    Memorial Day honors those who have died in military service to their country.

    Perhaps folks perspective on the true meaning of this holiday would hit home if a loved one had been maimed or killed in war.

    "lighten up"..I realized my comment would rile some to the point of retaliatory comment.

    Don has a good heart, expressing his feelings on many issues with a sincerity that is sorely lacking in this day and age. However, the video he choose as his way of "memorializing" was personally unexpected, showing what I guess is a (humorous?)side that has never been revealed.

    That stated, I humbly apologize to Don for feeling he needed to further explain himself, his feelings, in detail.

    Opinions being what they are, it wasn't necessary.

  7. I didn't mean to offend you, anonymous. You obviously have strong feelings on the subject, and I don't envy you the personal perspective that you seem to have and I don't.

    Would you agree that Memorial Day has a bit of a different significance when we are currently in a war? Yes, it is to memorialize those who lost life and limb for their country. But isn't it a time to consider those who are still risking life and limb? Maybe I have that wrong, but that's the way I've seen it for the past 5 or so years. I saw this video as a new way of looking at these people as more than symbols of heroism and sacrifice.

  8. Yes this day is for honoring the dead members of the armed forces. Yet, while we are in the midst of war our minds turn to those fighting today.

    My uncles, cousins(WWII), my brother in law (Vietnam), and two of my brothers were in the military. I just would like to say the solemn tributes as well as the humorous moments can both be visited on this most honored day.

    Pleas remember they are MEN in uniform not robots. They are my brothers, my family. I know their resolve as well as their humor. Humor during the midst of war is a way to keep ones sanity. My brother in law said you can't be "on point" continuously. You've got to have "down time". Isn't that the way in all aspects of life?

    I know I'm rambling, just one last thing. I liked the video, it gave relief seeing them in some "down time". Thanks Don.

  9. My grandfather was career military...Lt. Colonel in the USAF. My father was also in the Air Force for a few years when he and my mother were first married. One of my father's counsins was in Viet Nam.

    Grandpa passed away a few years ago, having fought in WWII in the skies over Europe some 50 years prior. I knew him to be a computer-savvy man with a love for his silly dog and a way with all things mechanical and electrical.

    My Dad's cousin, Bobby, threw himself on a grenade in Viet Nam in order to save his buddies from being killed. As valiant and selfless an act as ever there could be. I never knew him.

    These are the people I was trying to remember and honor yesterday, in my own quiet way.

    There are many ways to remember and honor. Thanks, Don, for sharing this one with me.

    aka Jenny

  10. My younger brother is currently serving in Djibouti - and I intend to send him this video as a way to lighten his day - I think that just as everyone grieves in their own way, and we must respect that - everyone finds their own way to honor those who choose to serve this country, currently serving, or having made that ultimate sacrifice, and we must respect that also.


  11. Anonymous11:53 PM EDT

    I know I am late as usual to comment on such things, and yet I feel a bit compelled to this discussion. I've never been really good with death and such. Still for those who I do not know, I honor them everyday with each breathe I take. I honor those who I do know that are currently fighting over there. Those who have and now have to go back. I do not honor them just on Memorial Day, or Armed Services Day.
    I watched the video, my thoughts were not of any harshness but a bit of saddness that they were filled with joy even in the toughest of times. My thoughts were also of happiness that they could find that joy in the toughest of times. War always leads to confliction, whether it be in one's self or with another.
    If one of those men was someone close to me, I would not feel at all offended by the video, but rather the "conflict" of seeing them again.I don't know if I made sense. I hope I did, sorry I was late.

  12. WOW Don! I think you hit the right cord on this one.