Jammie posted the video earlier of the union loving folks using a war memorial as a post-it notes bulletin board as part of a larger post and I just couldn't let it rest there, so forgive me putting down my thoughts on the matter.
First off I actually saw the video after Instapundit linked to Ann Althouse's blog about the matter. I wish to commend the people who confronted the folks manning the booth for remaining so civil, but something inside of me just went dead while watching that. I don't know if is because of the cumulative effect of having to wage verbal and written jujitsu with so many liberals of all stripes for the last ten years or if it was the introspection I underwent in wondering what my 20 years of service meant and how things haven't changed in this country with respect to our military and an appreciation of their sacrifices.
I remember back to when I enlisted, I was working full time for a printing company doing photographic screening and setup for the guys working the printing presses. Upon hearing I had enlisted in the Army, much to my surprise they weren't like other folks who went about tsk-tsking, instead they chided me for not going into the Marines. It was then I found out that a good many of them had prior military service and I had been working there over a year. They hid their service either out of shame or fear or because maybe to them it wasn't any big deal. They had done their time and moved on.
Flash forward about six months and it was me walking through the Atlanta airport with my parents headed to catch a plane for the first 3 year tour in Germany. A young man, my age, maybe a little older veers over in our direction, calls me a baby killer and attempts to spit on me. Discipline instilled by drill instructors took hold and my normal personality of being a smart ass took over and I quipped something about how he must have me confused with an abortion doctor and we continued on our way. I can't forget the look of hurt on my parents face however while I was reassuring them that it was alright and to forget about it. That was 1978.
In the ensuing decades the military went through periods of ups and downs. Shame while Carter was president to chest bursting pride when Reagan was, and just a gallows humor sort of mentality while Clinton held the office. The one constant however was a downplaying of being a member of military, just as our young men and women today do. Just like those guys I worked with, it was a sense of just doing your job.
Now here we are in 2011 and while some of the more blatant personal attacks on service members seem to have waned, the general atmosphere concerning the military seems to have not changed much. Hollywood still portrays military members as some sort of redneck buffoon with a propensity for violence, living on a mental razor's edge with some sort of substance abuse or dependency problem just one step away from flying into some sort of PTSD fueled rage. Think of every television show, movie, or special and try to recall when the military member or veteran was ever depicted as normal, even in shows which are willing to show the military in a positive light.
Let me apologize for the rambling but I can't muster the emotion to rant. That video, for me encapsulated for me how little progress we really have made to show just the least little bit of respect for those who have worn the uniform. I kept waiting for someone from the group to apologize and make a move to remove the notes and stickers, but no one did. They didn't even flinch in that direction. Ponytail guy was living out his vision of what life must have been like in the heyday of the hippies in the 60's and the young woman merely seemed clueless as to why someone would be upset over using that memorial as anything other then a display stand.
I am tired of fighting but beyond that I am just tired. Maybe I am getting old. Maybe it is just finally giving in to the inevitable. Maybe it is because what somebody who is much better with words then me said once. Something like freedom has a taste that those which have fought for it is so sweet and the protected will never know.
Final random thought for you to chew on. You know how on those reality shows they every so often reunite the contestants with their loved ones after 15 or 30 days of separation and there is all the tears and hugging. Yeah, me and the wife have a good laugh over those. You see 23 days after we got married I shipped off to Korea for a year by myself. I have spent more time on little field exercises then these shows actually last. And now today the wife says she misses those separations. You see for her the biggest adjustment to civilian life has been having me around all the time.