Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering War

We are a country at war. It doesn't matter what side you are on politically or religiously. It doesn't matter if you are opposed to it or if you support it. What came before were decisions and what comes after are recollections and legacy building. What happens now is very, very different. You can't blink your eyes and make it gone. We are at war.

What does this mean? There are two questions here. There is 'what does it mean to the average American citizen right now?', and also 'what SHOULD it mean?'. It should mean that we have a collective, societal understanding that there are boys and girls, men and women, out there today, dying, in our name. Again, it doesn't matter if you oppose it, it is still happening, and it is in our name.

I teach college kids. I taught through 9/11 and through the beginning of both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. I am amazed over and over again at how little they know about what is going on. In truth, it is their generation that should be the most worried, the most involved, and the most vocal. And what they don't know or don't care to know makes me sad.

Try this. It is not fun, but try it. Ask some people the following questions and see if they know the answers. Be ready to be afraid:
  • When and why did Iraq become a country?
  • Where are the Terrorists?
  • Who attacked America on 9/11?
  • Are we, currently, at war?
  • Who are we fighting?
  • What kind of fighting is it?
  • How are we doing? Are we making progress?
  • How many Americans have died?
  • How many civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have died?
  • Why are we at war?
  • What are YOU doing to help?*

* Help? I can hear you already. What do you mean help?!!!!!! For those opposed, the objection to helping would be "Why do you want me to help support something I oppose?" and for those of you who support the war, or even have people you love fighting and dying in the struggle, you may be asking "What? You want me to give more than I already give?"

Yes and yes. What I want, and please remember that I am a self proclaimed idealist, is for us all to simply remember. I just would like for us to have some sort of memory about what is going on around us. There is a young man waking up today. He is cold and he is tired and he wants to fight for his country but he also wants to come home. He is brave. He comes from the home of the brave. Our home. Take some time this holiday weekend to remember those that came before him. Those that gave their lives in order to make the world a better place, or those that gave their lives following orders...(It really doesn't matter how you feel about the issue when the soldier is at stake). But also remember those that are out there right now. I used a male figure above to get the point across, to give you all the visual we seem to have of that soldier "boy", but remember she is out there too. That soldier girl. Let's remember all of them and try to figure out how to weave them, and their cause, into our lives for more than one weekend a year.

Over and out. Tomorrow is recipe day!

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