"Hate war. Love the warrior."
I read this quote today and realized how profound it was. I'm not a fan of war. The repercussions of the violence of the world are just too great to contemplate. Soldiers wounded on more ways the physical; families torn asunder; everyone suffering, not just those killed in action. It's awful. Movies like Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill only touch briefly on the horrors that war brings.
But for the warriors, the soldiers who choose to serve their country to the best of their ability, for them I have the utmost respect and gratitude. I cannot do what they do. They serve despite the horrors they face. They put themselves in harm's way specifically to defend and protect so many others, people they don't even know, because it's right and honorable. That's humbling.
Not all soldiers have pure ideals when joining the military. Some go in to, as said in G.I. Jane, "blow shit up." Others go for the "free education" the military offers. Some even go to escape an awful home life. But in the end, they do the duty of protecting others.
My grandfather experienced the Second World War from the position of a civilian until March 1944 when he could no longer stand by and not help. He was inducted into active service on March 22, 1944 for the 6th Night Fighter Squadron. He worked on the turret guns for the B-29 Superfortresses, repairing and maintaining them for the flight crews to take out over Europe. He was honorably discharged from the Army two years to the day he enlisted, March 22, 1946. His rank was Sergeant, and his name is Martin E. Schumacher.
There's a word in Sanskrit, dharma, that means "sacred duty". A longer translation of it could be "Doing what is right regardless of its ease or pleasantness" and that's what it is to be a soldier. Doing what's right regardless of its pleasantness. Most of war isn't pleasant at all. My grandfather felt strongly that it was his duty, his dharma, to join the Army and serve to the best of his ability.
This Memorial Day, take a moment to think of the men and women who are serving this country in the Armed Forces and offer them your gratitude for doing what most of us cannot. They have sacrificed all their Federal Holidays so that we might have another free three day weekend. On this three day weekend, raise your glass of lemonade, beer, wine or whiskey to all the soldiers, both fallen and surviving, and send them blessings. Thank them for performing the ultimate dharma and love them for what they've done for us all.
One last note: Right now Indie Book Collective is putting on a four day Blog Tour de Troops. Today is day 3, tomorrow is day 4. If you visit the blogs they've posted on their site, hoping from one to the next, and comment on each, not only will you receive a free ebook from the blog's author, but one will be sent in your name to the troops serving in the Armed Forces. You can choose to send the ebook to a specific soldier or just let them send it to anyone. Not only that, but you'll be entered to win a Kindle. Plus, you can donate into a fund for free Kindles for the troops. Awesome! I've heard that books are what most soldiers want in care-packages these days. Can you help out by commenting, if only to send them a free book? Blessings to you and your families this Memorial Day, and to those who serve so diligently. :)