Rights War

Memorial Day-2017

George McGovern quote - I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
We get into a routine, do our work, keep our homes, take care of our families. Days like today we would take out time to remember, to truly appreciate, the comfort and opportunities we have. We would take a day like today to thank the people who died so that we could take aspects of our lives for granted.

Then something happens that makes us look up from our lives. A tyrant comes into power, despite our best efforts, and suddenly every day is a fight, even for civilians. Citizens watch in horror as their representatives walk away from them, from us, and fall in line behind the tyrant. The rights our veterans, those who survived their service and those who fell in service, fought for become more precious and more valuable than ever. What they earned for us, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, may be all we have left as many of our elected representatives turn their backs on us. We look at our veterans’ deaths but also at their lives, and we are reminded how they, and all the people around them, shaped the country and the world we live in now. And we’re thankful.

Every day lately I find myself appreciating our veterans (all of them) more than ever. Our veterans, as well as the people who risked everything to protest inequality, are the ones who secured our rights. Almost daily, I find myself speaking out. Almost every day I read about or see others speaking out and risking for the rest of us. All of those who came before and all of those who still protest and speak out today owe all of those who came before. We will do our best to repay them by defending ourselves and each other, by preserving the gifts they gave us, and by sharing them with those in need. Their protections are extended to our new brothers and sisters, to refugees, to those who yearn to be free.

Rick Best served in the Army for 23 years, but he was killed defending American values on a train in Portland. Standing with Mr. Best against hate were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, a recent college graduate, and Micah Fletcher, a young poet. Of the three men, Micah survives his injuries. The other two men died protecting two young women on that train from a white supremacist; the two women may be alive today because of these three heros. We don’t know, for sure, but we do know that they stood up against a terrorist to shield two young women who were likely Muslims. We don’t know, and their religion is not our business (we’re in America; they can worship or not as they choose) except that the terrorist who killed those men made it his business.

I’m 50 years old, and I was born in America. We been at war pretty much my entire life. Even though somehow none of my veteran family members or ancestors (that I know of) gave their lives in service, I still have a deep appreciation for what it means to “write that check for everything up to and including life” in service of one’s country. We would not be where we are if it weren’t for those who gave all, who fought and died for us. Literally, they died so we could be here today. Because of their sacrifices, I can vote. Because of their sacrifices I can point out that our leader is a tyrant, that he’s ignorant, stupid, greedy, and an ugly bigot. Because of their sacrifices, I can write and say what I think without fear of the government arresting me or murdering me for sharing my opinions. Because of their sacrifices, those Muslim women should be able to ride the train in peace, to live in peace. Because of their sacrifices reporters like Ben Jacobs should be able to do their jobs and not expect an assault from the likes of a shitbag like Gianforte.

And because of our fallen veteran’s sacrifices other shitbags in the United States of America can defend the actions of a shitbag candidate for representative when he assaults a reporter for asking a question, for doing his job, for exercising his freedom to keep us informed.

Enough heroes have died for us here. They should not have to continue to fight for us at home. One day, because of our veterans, because of those who have fallen and those who live, because of people standing up against hate and violence and tyranny, we will have peace.

(a poem from Micah Fletcher, posted on his Facebook page this past Saturday)
“I, am alive,
. I spat in the eye of hate and lived.
This is what we must do for one another
We must live for one another
We must fight for one another
We must die in the name of freedom if we have to.
Luckily it’s not my turn today”

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