Monday, May 25, 2009

Choice and Memorial Day Weekend

When I think of all the people and their families who have served in some capacity for their country, I think of my options. And my fortune. And my privilege. I think of the secrets that the public does not know or want to know of our military.

I think of a former colleague, a mother whose son was in Iraq and barely spoke for the three years he was away and then 9 weeks before his discharge was the only time I saw her smile as she told me he was soon coming home. Weeks later, I looked for her at work and heard her son was killed in a roadside bomb.

I think of friends who whose loved ones are away, shut away in a remote part of the world, their duties mysteries, their actions unknown, their security unstable.

I think of all the people who are actively in our military, whose belief system I do not understand but simultaneously respect. I think of how so many of these people fighting in our war are late teens and early 20-somethings. They're kids.

And I think that that is how my choices are available, how our world builds its freedom -- on who wins wars, who has military power and security and bullying power. I think of all the activists, professors, and educators in the Philippines who are abducted, raped, tortured, and disappeared under the watch of their government. I think of the voiceless screams of the women I know walking the streets of Mercado Oriental, in mother-daughter prostitution rings, who have no choice but to work for violent pimps and sell their bodies, their mother-daughter relationship to an evil system of endless oppression, and whose government gives them only sobras and palabras?

Memorial Day always makes me think of choices. It always makes me think about privilege. It always conjures up the two sides to every coin and often the confusion I feel when I pass cemeteries with hundreds of mini-flags and flowers, confetti on the graves that honor those who gave their lives and to whom I hang my head in prayer and gratitude. It makes me think of our freedom -- and what it buys us in other countries.

Choice. At what expense does yours come with?

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