Why Do I Cry?
It is the twelfth of July. Most of my neighbors have just finished Thursday dinner and are gathering along the parade route to welcome wounded warriors to our neck of the woods. Many reminisce, war stories, while establishing beachheads, the site chosen to place their chairs awaiting the sound and sight of the helicopter that signals the warriors’ arrival. Those old enough and pensive enough cry, tears shed not for the wounds of the warriors or the warriors themselves as tears would be the last thing our warriors would want. Explaining my tears is challenging and difficult:
I cry for the war America was lied into. I cry for the lies that kept us at war necessitating multiple deployments by our heroes. I cry because we did not learn our lesson from Viet Nam. I cry for the ordinary citizens plucked from their environment to serve in the military who were damaged or killed on orders from Pentagon officials seldom, if ever, in harm’s way themselves. I cry for the profiteers who salivate at the continuation of this war and the prospect of the next war. I cry for the people, although patriots to the end, who were against the war and were forced to defend their patriotism knowing their antiwar positions were based on love for humanity combined with the observation that war has no winners. I cry for the brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers and friends who watched as their relatives in the military were turned into killing machines, then returned home to lead ‘normal lives.’ I cry for our government as it has not as yet assumed total responsibility for the health and welfare and income of those returning warriors from Viet Nam let alone Iraq and Afghanistan who are unable to assume the roles they once held in society. I cry because the military minds in this country will always find a way to involve us in war. I cry because of those politicians and military hierarchy who think we should be policemen to the world. And, the saddest reason to cry is that the unique, indisputable camaraderie forged between bands of brothers during war never seems to have been possible were it not for war. And, for that reason alone, the preponderance of those returning from our wars say they would do it again. Imagine, it takes serving in a war to reach this closest level of brotherhood!
In honoring our warriors during their time here in Rockaway, we would be remiss not to do the same to those who organize this annual tribute. Many of us do whatever we can to help with contributions to charities specifically designed to help wounded warriors. However these local men and women who have planned Rockaway’s tribute have clearly taken their dedication to our warriors to the next level. To all of you, thank you for the labor of love, honor and respect that shine a bright light on the warriors and on our community as well. We salute you.
An annual Rockaway tradition, honoring and supporting those who sacrificed for us, should be a joyous occasion. Then, why am I crying?