Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11 A Day for Veterans and Brides

 Today is Veterans Day but I'm not sure if you say Happy Veterans Day because it seems to me it should be more of a say Thank You to a Veteran day. While I am not a supporter of any of the wars the US is currently involved in, and while I think war is atrocious and medieval, a few years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with some Iraq veterans and soldiers, marines, and some Navy troops. In 2005 I drove around the country with my friend, Carmen, and we shot a documentary called Dear America. We interviewed hundreds of young Americans (ages 18-30) all over the nation, asking them their thoughts on the war, the country, what they would like to say to America, and how they would like to be remembered. I have to say the soldiers were some of the more interesting and emotionally compelling interviews. I thought I would find a sort of arrogant Ra-Ra America, I'm a patriot attitude, but what my arrogant liberal-minded attitude actually met were gentleman, some who believed what they were doing, some who were actually questioning and challenging it, some who were trying to escape a troublesome path, and some who just believed deeply in service, service for their country no matter what kind of service the country asked of them. I visited Camp Pendleton, a USO office in the St. Louis airport, the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, and a New Jersey home where I met an Iraq Veteran who was now suffering from PTSD and was an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He had signed up with the National Guard as a way to pay for college and within a week, September 11th happened and within months he found himself shipped to Iraq. He was involved in a three day shoot-out with Al-Quaeda that ended with him losing four of his close friends. He had nightmares almost every night, had suffered hearing loss, had developed chronic back pain and had an extremely hard time with anger management. He was the most articulate interview out of the 150 we shot.

I remember the soldiers' interviews were some of my favorites because they expanded my own understanding of patriotism and challenged my own narrow-mindedness. It didn't matter that I was "liberal." That did not make me open-minded. Fundamentalism is fundamentalism no matter which side of the spectrum you're on. I found that what these soldiers believed in was not so radically different from my own beliefs. And while I know there are some soldiers that have abused their privileges, their power, and horrible atrocities have indeed occurred at the hands of American soldiers, I can still appreciate those who are serving the country even if sometimes I can't understand it or believe in it. So today, I say  
Thank You to veterans.

I also say Congratulations to the many, many couples who have taken advantage of this adorable wedding date and are deciding to tie the knot- one of them being my very loved and missed friend, Sandy, who is moving to London after she gets hitched! Congratulations, Sandy!!! Let it be stated that 11.11.11 can be remembered as a day marked with gratitude and love.

3 comments:

Mike said...

Dear America is a great documentary. And it made its way in to the Philadelphia film festival...
Thankfully, our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Thanks to all of you for your service.

Carmen said...

amy v was talking to the school yesterday (grandparents day) and in her welcome to our special guests, she mentioned that it was no only grandparents day for tps, but veterans day for the country. she then invited those grandparents who were veterans to stand up and be recognized. i was surprised to find myself moved by that moment - there were more than i thought in our small progressive community

Lindsey said...

thanks for the comments! I would feel moved whenever I saw a vet, especially the ones who had lost a limb, running the Marathon. It's incredible the kind of sacrifice some can make. It makes me think about my own attitude towards service and how I can be better.