For most people these days – and this is not me saying that this is necessarily good or bad, but it’s just a statement of fact – it’s the beginning of summer. Most people I talk to can’t even tell me the difference between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Now, to be totally honest with you I get them mixed up in my head. I know that one is supposed to officially open summer, in May, and one is supposed to officially close it, in September. I will almost always mix them up though, if asked on the fly. I also know there’s something about not wearing white before Memorial Day if you’re rich.
Fuck that shit. I don’t like white clothes at all, for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the wiggly bits on my legs and arms. But tell me not to wear white before the fourth Monday in May and goddamn it I’ll buy a new wardrobe just to defy you.
But Memorial Day is a day to recognize those who’ve gone into the military in order to protect the freedom of our country and everyone in it. Now. I have serious philosophical issues with things like war, and the politics that go along with it, but I do feel strongly that we ought to show a bit of respect for those who’ve given up their own freedoms to provide that service for us.
I know I would last at best 13 seconds in boot camp.
Less than 8 seconds if it were the Marines.
Regardless of how we feel about what soldiers are asked to do, or about them as people, I think we need to acknowledge the role they play in our lives. It does not take long – a few fractions of a second – to find places in the world where I am not allowed to take to the internets and spew my opinion all over the damn place.
Many people might be thankful for that set of circumstances.
I am not. I like having a free-to-spew zone where I can just let it all go into the void.
That’s my thoughts on Memorial Day. One of the groups of soldiers I have the most respect for are the Vietnam era veterans. They really kind of didn’t get the shitty end of the stick so much as they got one stick with two shitty ends. War abroad and rampant disrespect on just a human level when they got back. I respect that protest and dissent has an important role in politics and in life and believe me when I say that I will get into fisticuffs over the right to protest. I just wish that people would have stopped to think about what kind of trauma these men had just been through and treated them with the same dignity they’d give anyone on the street.
No more, if you feel that strongly about it, but certainly no less for what they did.
I don’t know. I tend to have good luck with Vietnam guys. They are well regarded as a tough nut to crack in terms of getting stories from them. And rightfully so. There’s a lot of gnarly emotional shit going on in those guys. But I’ve managed to get a handful of them to let me in and give me their narratives and for those I am eternally grateful because I feel like they have a hell of a lot to teach us just about the world, and life, and ourselves, and humanity in general.
They read the roll call at today’s Memorial Day service. I’m not one to go to services like these, but it needed to be covered for the paper and I was happy to take it on. It’s the least I can do for guys who gave up a lot for me before I was even born.
It’s usually just photos and captions, which make easy, fun stories. I’m not having to attend too much to what’s being said and can instead allow my artistic mind to sort of take the wheel. I found lots of good shots today but the light was not in my favor as the ceremony had been arranged. It was a matter of shitty photographic physics today.
But here are the few I got.
I also wanted to point out that the ceremony was on the county courthouse steps. It’s directly across the road from that apartment building I was telling you was my single girl fantasy residence. Top left. Our left, not the building’s. Because trees.
In my fondest fantasies, that’s where I live.
The firing squad is a staple of these kinds of services. Which is nice and all, but my startle response is through the roof. I’m like Tweak on South Park. Like, my kid hides around a corner and shrieks “boo” at me as I walk into the room and I’m legit going full Fred Sanford.
I try really hard to prepare myself every time, and I feel like a real fucking ass clown jumping at the sound of gunfire surrounded by veterans who’ve actually got a reason to be startled by gunfire. But I can’t stop it.
I jump and fuck up my photo.
Every single time.
I don’t like firing squads. They stress me out.
Other than that, it was a good, quick, easy assignment and I was happy to do it.
Happy Memorial Day, y’all.
Now go get drunk at a barbecue for me.
Peace out, girl scouts.