As I sit here at the computer, still digesting that fantastic meal from Golden Corral, I found myself reflecting on the topic of being thankful.
Now, this isn’t because it’s almost Thanksgiving, but more about why I was digesting the “wonderful” meal from Golden Corral. See, it was Military Appreciation Day and good old GC was treating veterans to a free meal (in case you’ve never heard of Golden Corral, it’s a buffet-style restaurant; a meal is whatever number of trips through the buffet line your stomach can handle).
Last Thursday was Veterans Day and a bunch of restaurants treated vets to an array of freebies, ranging from a free appetizer (like the Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse) to an entire menu (Applebee’s). I can only imagine what would happen if Hooters joined the movement.
Being solo on these jaunts, I ended up sharing tables with others and got to hear their “war” stories and military tales. It made me wonder about these future generations are going to cope. I could remember all the discipline that military life had introduced into the lives of us veterans.
It made us productive citizens (most of us, anyway). The kind who built this great nation, brick by brick, girder by girder and X chromosome by Y chromosome.
Alas, it seemed as if the veterans’ appreciation is destined to become like Christmas – that once-a-year event where we all suddenly remember to be good to our fellow human beings, though even that is disappearing fast in an age of disaffectedness and political correctness.
For all the wonderful bits of technology we have available to us – cell phones, iPhones, Internet, laptops – we still seem not to know that there are wars going on. The news is reduced to “NATO servicemembers killed” yada yada yada.
Unfortunately, we’ve been going down that road for awhile. In Vietnam, protesters spit on returning veterans. While I’m glad no one is spitting now, we’re doing something almost as bad – we are gleefully and naively asking young men and women “did you kill anyone over there” or, even worse “how did it feel?”
Talk about disrespect. And everyone is asking, from little kids to adults.
I don’t know anymore.
As for what this topic has to do with writing, such a culture change appears in our books. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (Mark Bowden), The Hurt Locker(Mark Boal) and Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead have showed us a war fought by the brave while the disaffected back home don’t seem to notice. Boal appears here again with “Death and Dishonor,” a piece that led to the movie In the Valley of Elah, a movie based on actual events in which soldiers suffering from PTSD because of Iraq kill and dismember one of their own.
Maybe we should either start writing about the bravery of our men and women in uniform and stop focusing on all the negative stuff. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen didn’t ask to go to war, but they performed their duties nonetheless. They certainly don’t need the people they’re safeguarding to paint them all with the same brush.
And maybe we can help with a few strokes of a pen instead of a paint brush.
At the very least, don’t wait until Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day to say thanks to those who served our country faithfully and with honor.