Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Spoils of War

This is my blog. It's filled with my words and my thoughts. Sure, I hope you enjoy reading them. I love to see the comments that get left behind, and would very much love to see more. But I realize that so far, I haven't said much. Some of that is simple forgetfulness. I started this blog when I was busy using other methods of conveyance, such as LiveJournal and Facebook. Some of it is plain tiredness or lack of inspiration. Either I have nothing to say when I have the motivation to say something, or I have no motivation, energy or time to put down the thoughts pinging through my brain. And then there's simply this: I wasn't sure it was something you guys wanted to read. Well I refer you back to the first line. That's right, this is my blog and this post is filled with stuff I want to say. I hope you want to read it. I hope you enjoy it enough to comment on it. But if you don't, that's okay too.

Some of you reading this know a bit about me. You know that I am an unabashed novel reader, that I am an out-and-out geek with a love of baking, and a strange connection to the water. I've been blamed for random thunderstorms, and I'm not allowed to sit near campfires until they are well and truly lit because my mere presence puts them out. Many of you know that I harbor aspirations of world domination, one puff pastry, chocolate eclair, or creme brulee at a time. What few of you know is that I am also a US Naval Officer.

I went to college on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship. For four years, I was trained in basic military bearing and leadership. 9/11 held a special place for me because that was the day I had my Military Training at school. We had been dismissed early, well before the first tower went down. I was at home in bed asleep, unaware that the world I knew had already changed forever--and in my opinion, for the worse. My mother called and woke me up with a message from my father asking me not to wear my uniform that day. I didn't understand what was happening and she told me to turn on the news. I flipped to CNN just seconds before the second tower went down. It was in that instant that my life was over. My life ended and a new life began.

The patriotic fervor that swept the nation was amazing. For once, the residents of my city weren't cursing the military or the noises the planes make when flying over head. They stood up and clapped, they shook our hands, and everyone put bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming their love of jet noise. The catch phrase "Never Forget" was coined. The trouble is, we did forget. And we remember all too well. We forget about little things like the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment. We forget about the lessons taught to us in school and by Orwell in 1984. The Patriot Act and its various and sundry additions and tack ons made it through the House and Senate. We cheered as we gave away our rights.

We remember that the perpetrators of the crime were Arabic, that they were Islamic and Muslim. We remember their generic cultural identity and their religion, and we proclaim loudly that any and all Arabs, Muslims, and Islams are terrorists as well! We remember the fear and the pain from those moments, watching 4 airplanes crash, and we forget everything else. To this day we live in a Nation of fear mongering and hatred. Americans who follow the Muslim faith are persecuted because of their choice in religion. This isn't new to the world, but come on guys. Can we not look back on our own history--short though it may be--and remember why our ancestors came here in the first place?

We're coming up on Thanksgiving, and while that holiday is nothing more than a celebration of gluttony and greed at its roots, let's look back at the settlers who started it. Remember why they boarded the Mayflower? Why they chanced a perilous ocean crossing? Because they wanted freedom from religious persecution and tyranny. Why do we forget that now? Why do we forget our First Amendment right to freely practice any religion, but we'll invoke it at the slightest question of objection or hint of censorship to our words? Words that are not protected under said amendment because they are incendiary, because they are "fight words" or designed to do nothing more than grab attention.

I am a US Navy Officer. I am proud of that designation, though there are a few out there who will tell you otherwise. They believe that my desire to be a pastry chef means I am not proud, that I dislike or even hate the military. That simply is NOT TRUE. I'm third generation Navy. Both of my parents were in. My father is a decorated war veteran a couple times over. My brother has served two tours in Iraq since 2003, and there is the potential for another tour in another war zone sometime in the future since he's still in and proudly serving as well. Have I been over to the sandbox? No. My tour in direct support of the war was to help the families left behind while their Sailors went over to play Army and fought in the sand and sun. They kept me safe in my bed at night. The least I could do was everything in my power to make sure their families were okay while they were gone.

Would I go over and play in the sand? If the Navy needs me to go, I will go. Do I want to? Um, no. Who WANTS to go into combat and risk life and limb? Especially today when there are a bunch of people back home who are cursing me for signing up in the first place? Who WANTS to spend their days in blistering heat with camel spiders and sand fleas, far far FAR from any family and close friends (That's not to say you won't have/make close friends over there, but many if not most of my close friends are civilians)? Seriously, if you're chomping at the bit to do it for any reason other than an overzealous desire to serve your country, see the psych ward.

Here's the bottom line. I signed up. I stood in that auditorium with my fellow midshipmen and raised my right hand. I repeated the oath and swore to defend my country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. My Herby Hancock* is on the dotted line (it's actually not dotted, but whatever) and if my country has need, I will see it through. That doesn't mean I agree with it. That doesn't mean I like it or that I have to. Despite the misconception, I am allowed my own opinion. What I do with that opinion ... there are certain restrictions on it, but truth be told, they aren't unreasonable. I'm not allowed to protest or take part in any political rallies, fundraisers or other events IN UNIFORM. See, perfectly reasonable. And no, that's not the only one, but it's the only one I'm giving you.

I didn't agree with this war. Even before the discovery that *gasps* there were no WMDs, I believed we went in for the wrong reasons. But guess what? I don't have to agree with every policy my employer makes to do my job. Just like not every Microsoft Employee has to like or agree with every policy set down by Bill Gates, or whoever is acting CEO now. I whole heartedly agree that what happened in Ft. Hood was a travesty. The treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and GITMO was appalling. Guess what? The US Government thought so too. Remember the trials the US SERVICE MEMBERS went through? The convictions that were handed down, along with sentences? Yeah, we didn't sit on our asses twiddling our thumbs while trying to distract the world with something else just to give those CRIMINALS medals later. I won't claim that every criminal was caught and punished, nor will I comment on whether or not justice was served in the sentences handed down. But I will say this: Stop blaming the entire US Military for the acts of a few. Stop stereotyping and making broad sweeping generalizations. They show your ignorance just as much as they offend me.

By now, those who know me are going, okay... what happened? Why is she going off like this? What did she hear/read/watch that started this word vomit? A Titter friend sent me a link to a blog. It was a well written article by @PaulCarr (Twitter) about "citizen journalists" and their affect on our decreasing humanity during events like the Ft. Hood shootings. I found it thought provoking. I do see some aspects to "citizen journalism" that could be positive, but by and large I get his point and agree with it. Many of the comments however... They left me cold, angry, rage-filled, and in the end, I had a head full that needed to be put down.

It's been an hour since I started this post, if that gives you any indication. My head feels lighter now and I think I might actually be able to sleep. If any of you are still with me, thanks for sticking it out to the end, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please be considerate of others, but be honest.

*I do know that it was actually John Hancock. Herby Hancock is a reference to Chris Farley's Character in Tommy Boy.

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