This weekend is military appreciation at the Aces games. Tonight during the first intermission the Vietnam Vets Harley club hosted a fallen soldiers ceremony. Several participants were recent purple heart recipients from various Alaskan branches of the military.
As I sat watching this ceremony welcoming home those who have recently "served" in Iraq...and to honor those who have died, not just in this most recent "conflict" but in all previous American conflicts, I found myself repeatedly uncomfortable. Trapped, trying to reconcile two very disparate feelings.
On the one hand, I do not support the cause for which these newly returned men and women have been sent so far from home. I don't even really support the idea of the military or its overwhelming power and resource consumption (especially in this country.) Yet, I recognize the "need," at least at present day, for the armed forces to exist. More than that though, I have trouble reconciling my distaste for such a militaristic display and the fact that so many in the audience with which I sat so clearly support and embrace it, with my need to honor and respect those who have died and show compassion for those they have left behind.
I can't figure out if these most recent deaths are made all the more tragic by the fact that they were for a "cause" I find so repugnant. At least in (some) other/previous wars the causes were noble and the people who felt they were defending freedom may really have been.
I struggle with this and realize that these issues might be the sort of which I am bound to struggle with more as I see my youngest brother so excelling in his JROTC program and recognize that he may see the military as a quality choice for his future. It's made all the more difficult by the fact that I know following such a path might be one of the few things that helps him to climb out of the cycles that our family seem to get caught in. But, I fear for him in that...in all the ways that any family member would...but also I fear him becoming something or someone I am ideologically opposed to.
I know it isn't a guarantee that this will happen. I need only to look at my Uncle Brian, one of the people for whom I have always had the most respect, and his military career to know that it can serve my brother well without turning him into the "wrong" (in my eyes) kind of person. But my uncle enlisted and served most of his career during very different times...