I admittedly have a hard time seeing soldiers as heroes. Days like Memorial Day are fraught with complicated feelings for me.

My father is a Vietnam Vet with severe PTSD. As a child, I watched him deal with flashbacks and mental illness. He is one of the lucky ones that came home.

Looking back, it looks like the American invasion of Vietnam was an absolute waste politically. It worked to tear this country apart…and for nothing. Our government sent these young men to die for their country over nothing. Pawns in their political game of chess.

Then when they returned, our government did not take care of them as was their responsibility. My father is fully disabled but had to fight another war, this time against bureaucracy, in order to get what he earned.

Even now, the Republicans are sponsoring a budget which not only decimates medical coverage for everyone but also veterans.

We did not learn our lesson after Vietnam either. Instead sending young men (and later including women) to die…or come back disabled (physically, mentally, or both) for little reason.

To be clear, I am not anti-military. I think it’s brave to be willing to die for something larger than yourself. However, I have trouble seeing people sent by our immoral government as invading forces as being heroes. Furthermore, I believe in honoring both sides who have died or who have suffered in unjust invasions such as Iraq or Vietnam.

My father is a hero because of how he gave up everything to take care of my mother when she was dying. Because when I was dying, he offered his house for me to live in, even though I was a selfish, incompetent, and terrible son.

Fred Rogers is a hero of mine because he embodied the virtues of love that his beloved Jesus taught. Likewise, as is Dorothy Day, for her emphasis on loving and caring for the “least of his brethren”.

I also think of heroes like Rick Best, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche who recently stood up against a man with a knife who harassed a Muslim woman and her friend on a train in Portland, Oregon. Two of these men gave their lives for the safety of innocent women.

May we all be as brave as these people when we need to be.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 05/31/2017.

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