Last year I wrote a pretty successful post on My Issues With Veteran's Day. I'm much more of an honest writer now so here's part 2.
If you know me then you know that I'm not the guy who wears the "Iraq War Veteran" hat or has the "USMC" tattoo on my chest or even discusses my military past with others. I sometimes even go as far as talking to other veterans like I'm not one. This is fun and interesting for me.
I'm not the guy who posts on facebook about sentimental issues that make people tear up or the guy that pulls out my old uniforms and medals to show off.
So here lies my issue with Veterans Day: I am a photographer, artist, teacher, husband, dad, whatever...and I was in the Marine Corps. But I don't feel like a Veteran most of the time. I went to Iraq, I have interesting stories but I don't care to talk about them very much. I have shirts, uniforms, medals and cammies but I'd rather not take the time to show you. I have friends that tag me in "patriotic" posts but I usually don't engage or respond. When I meet other veterans I feel disconnected from them and when they start talking about how different civilian life is I just nod my head. When another Marine says "oorah" to me I feel so awkward. When a stranger says "thank you for your service" I say "thank you for saying thank you" in an attempt to relieve that weird feeling.
What would happen if we thanked everyone for something they did for a veteran? What if we just valued humans? What would be the outcome if we just thanked our spouses or kids like we do veterans?
Did you know my wife went through hell when I was in the Marine Corps? And that since then she's managed to survive the backlash of my PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder along with a plethora of other shit? Not just survive but thrive. Did you know that I treated her really badly when I was in the Marine Corps while at the same time I was doing what most people consider "honorable" and "patriotic"? Did you know that it's an absolute miracle that she chose to stay with me? And did you know that she's probably been "thanked" by others around 3 or 4 times in the past 10 years? Feel free to thank her here.
Did you know that my 2 kids have seen me change dramatically in the past 5 years as I've addressed my Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD? They've been there while I've become obsessed with being an "artist" and "teacher". And did you know that they've had to deal with my anger, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, overworking and withdrawal? That they've helped and inspired most of my creative work? And did you know that they've never been thanked by others for that?
To all the veterans out there I give you mad props. I just wonder if everybody is being honored on Veteran's Day.