I’ve never been personally touched by war.
In college, my friends from Mansfield lost someone in Iraq. He died in a roadside explosion, and we toasted to him, camping under the Ohio sky one night fall night. In Perrysburg, I had a veteran buddy who loved karaoke. Every time we went, someone would sing “I’m Proud to be an American.” Generally, the song annoyed me—until I saw Brad listening to it, and he just sat there, singing along, head bowed, eyes shut, remembering all the friends he’d lost (of which there were many) in Afghanistan.
I have relational connections to war. Both my grandpas served in the United States Navy. Many of the friends I made in Charleston, SC, were enlisted men and their wives. Jake, bless him, served in the Navy for nine years. His parents were both Air Force. His sister and her husband are vets, too, and they’re currently dealing with the repercussions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The war felt very close this week, when the Valley of the Sun lost someone from Mesa to the war in Afghanistan. Sgt. Aaron “Moon” Cruttenden was only twenty-five. He joined the military for educational benefits, in an effort to give his 2-year-old daughter a better life. He died in a roadside ambush. In a recent interview, his uncle said, “Why did Aaron have to die?” he said. “He was such a genuine human being.”
Every year, for many years, I call my last living grandpa on Veteran’s Day and say, “Thank you for serving.” This year, I bought Jake a card, because I realized I’d never thanked my own boyfriend—the man I love—for all he has done for my freedom and peace on American soil. So sure, we get all weepy and nostalgic on Veteran’s Day … but what the hell about the other 364 days?
I’m sick of hearing about soldiers dying overseas, especially when some days, I don’t even understand what we’re fighting for. I’ve said, several times, “Can’t we just bring them home?” but obviously, it’s not that simple. There are powers that be who understand the situation much, much better than I do; regardless, I’m sick of twenty-five-year-olds dying. I’m sick of friends suffering from the possibly life-long repercussions of PTSD. I’m sick of these soldiers getting no attention for the sacrifices they’re making to keep America fat and happy.
My grandpa deserves more than a phone call. Jake deserves more than a card. They should be thanked every day. They should be hugged every day. They should never be overlooked for the time they gave to our country. Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day to remember those who have died on the battle field and those who made it home to fight another day. Our servicemen and women are the last heroes standing in a modern world, ruled by jackass politicians, Facebook, and the dreaded McDonald’s. Treat them as such. HEROES. Without them, who knows what America would be like? And we should remember that, every day of the year.