My philosophical leanings are liberal all-and-all. My life tends to be on the alternative side even thought I represent the patriarchal bastion on the surface: white, male, old(er), and (somewhat) affluent. I went the college path and have worked in industry since leaving the ivy halls of Auburn. My spiritual path has strayed from my Catholic roots. I've known my share of really interesting people as my world view was expanded. The total sum could have been a person who aligned with anti-military sentiment. This has not been the case and I would like to share why.
I've never been in the military myself. My grandfather was an artillery officer during WWII. He spoke little of his time in Germany. My father and uncle were in college during Vietnam. I have childhood memories of casualty reports being read by Walter Cronkite. My exposure to details of warfare was limited to the paperbacks of the genre I read during my high school years. The end result was a person who was comfortable about war fare, but still ripe for the anti-military sentiment so prevalent in the liberal world I lived.
My support of the Gulf War (I and II) was suffered due to the conservative plight on policy and the blatant pandering to oil interests. The neoconservative winds scared the heck out of me, but that's a story for another time. In the end I was neutral to slightly negative regarding military actions of the day.
This all changed when I met my aforementioned lovely wife. She has her own liberal leanings, but could be better described as a liberal leaning conservative. As the ying to my yang, my wife shared her many experiences in the Navy. Her career path took her through an arc that started as a Vietnam corpsman to an ending of Naval Reserves administration. During that time she met all kinds of people while both thriving and suffering in an ancient bureaucracy. While she was not in direct combat, she has the reminders of injuries sustained during her career, including helicopter crashes, car crashes, and indirect chemical warfare. She became my touchstone to the military experience, putting a human face on the faceless machine.
I've never been a left-wing liberal. I could have gone there, but perhaps my WASC origins slowed the progression. My spiritual leanings, while alternative, were neutral in respect to my destination. They made me fearful of ultraconservative head winds, but this again is a story for another time. All and all I was a middle of the road liberal, easy pickings for a pull to anti-war sentiments.
This brings me to the point of this blog, the value that my wife brought to my life. The indirect exposure to the military life made me appreciate those things my wife did in defense of her and my country. She is not a faceless aggressor or an evil industrial-military confederation. She shared the struggles experienced by those held accountable to protecting my nation. I became the conservative leaning liberal, complimenting my liberal leaning conservative spouse. My appreciation grew for the sacrifices made by our military branches. The far left wing talk of dissolving the military in order to rain benefits on everyone did not ring true to my ears. I remained a liberal while seeing value to the other side of the line.
I believe everyone would find value in putting a human face on the military. I have my wife. She is willing to speak of her career. Sadly many people cannot by choice. This does noncombatants lesser good than the witnesses believe. It becomes easier to assume that a standing military is evil and wrong. A human face put to Memorial Day allows consideration of life beyond the cookie-cutter memes and dogmatic political sentiments. Find a reason to honor Memorial Day by letting an active solider or veteran know that you appreciate them for their efforts and sacrifice.