|Bald eagle at Lummi Flats|
I knew I was in trouble this morning when I thought of writing this post. No pictures came to mind, and I perused my stash of them thoughtfully, but nothing emerged. Pictures of my garden, flowers in bloom, Arlington National Cemetery pictures, nothing seemed quite right for the mood I am in this morning. Thinking of my relatives who served in the military, wanting to honor them all by remembering them on this Memorial Day, I went to Wikipedia to learn about just what exactly Memorial Day is about. It was first called Decoration Day and started in 1868 and reminds us to remember those who died while serving in the US armed forces. Although my son Chris died while serving, he was thankfully not killed in a war but instead died of a heart attack. If he had lived another year, he would have been sent to Iraq and probably would have died there. I can be thankful for that small comfort.
It's been long enough now that I recall most of his life without pain, except for that last awful visit to watch his body being lowered into the ground. I try not to bring that period of time into conscious memory very often, but maybe today is a good time. I had not seen Chris since he left for Germany when I received a call from his wife that he had died. That moment when I heard the news is etched into my memory and cannot be erased. August 15, 2002: it's the day when I learned that my beautiful son was no longer. The pain of that memory still makes my breath become shallow and my heart tighten in my chest. I will probably carry that moment of sorrow for the rest of my life.
This is an experience that millions of parents have had to endure. When it happens because of an accident or illness, that is one thing. But when it happens because of a war, where your loved one has been sent to a foreign country to carry out the will of political actors who have decided to start a war, that must be much harder to bear. When I visited the Korean War Memorial in Washington, I was very moved by the sight of those statues of men marching through Korea.
The figures represent a squad on patrol, drawn from each branch of the armed forces... They are dressed in full combat gear, dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes which represent the rugged terrain of Korea.More than 54,000 Americans and 628,000 from the United Nations died in that war. And that was just one war. When I think of all the parents who had to be notified of the death of their beloved child, it makes me want to cry. But even worse are the wars that still go on, the awful Iraq war that has no memorial but has killed so many people, and for what?
Of course, I can tell myself that wars have been going on for as long as there have been people on this planet, but it makes it no easier to lose a child to a senseless cause. I hear people saying they died to make us safe, but is that really true? Can it be possible that it's just what some people say to justify the loss of life? The soldier has no say in what happens but must carry out the orders of those above him in rank. They too are no more culpable than the poor foot soldier who is given a gun and told to kill as many "enemies" as possible.
There are movies that glorify war and make it seem like a noble cause, but I just cannot understand it. I have never watched some of the more famous movies about Vietnam, because I was traumatized by others that I saw because I thought I should. There are scenes from other movies about war that haunt me as well. It makes me wonder if it's better to be given an outlet for one's grief by watching scenes like those, or if the producers are just capitalizing on our macabre interest in blood and gore without having to go through it ourselves. I wonder.
There are other things going on in the world today that are positive. Although there is still (and probably always will be) war in some parts of the world, there are many who do everything in their power to make things better. I just went to Google and looked up "good news" to see what comes up. I found several websites that share positive stories to inspire and uplift me. They all seem to be featuring the same stories, such as this one about the city of Los Angeles converting old hotels to apartments for homeless veterans.
Officials called it a major step forward toward developing large-scale housing for hundreds of homeless veterans. Advocates say about 2,700 homeless veterans remain in the county, despite an intensive drive by local and federal officials.When I first read this article, I saw that number of homeless vets as being in the country, but no, it's how many there are in the county of Los Angeles. That makes me wonder just how many there are throughout the United States. I am unwilling to look it up, since I am trying to find a way towards a positive outlook for this post. I'm not going there, but instead struggling to find more good news to share, for you and for myself as well.
Okay, how about this one? It's about how positive media can make us better people. I learned in this article that several studies bear out the importance of what we focus on.
[A researcher] asked 483 students to recall either a particularly meaningful or a particularly pleasurable movie they watched recently and to indicate the degree to which they felt joyful or elevated from watching it. When the researchers analyzed the content of these movies, they found that, sure enough, the meaningful movies depicted altruistic values, such as social justice and care for the weak, significantly more often than the pleasurable movies did.Well, that settles it for me, then. I'm going to fill my mind and heart with positive stories and watch uplifting movies to celebrate this long weekend. No more wallowing in pain and suffering! I've been all over the place with the post this morning, but it has helped me to find what I want to do. I hope that I have possibly pointed you, my dear reader, in a direction that will uplift you rather than bring you down. Until next week, then, when who knows where we'll go?