August 15, 2010

Symbols of War, Responsibility and Remembrance

Another comment by a reader that I find should be included in our main pages. This one is from More Stupid Crap to Say to a Combat Veteran, one of our readers favorite to comment on.
OEF Combat Vet Wife says,
I have read your blog and keep returning to it. You have an insight that helps me. My husband is and OEF vet with ptsd. He does not talk much and obviously I will never understand the experience he or any of you vets have gone through.This blog helps. However, this comment "We do not wear our military memorabilia because we want people to ask us about them, we wear them to remind us of shit we will never be able to forget. If you cannot understand that then you have no business asking us about anything." leaves me a bit uneasy (for lack of a better word).
Photo by Scott Lee
When ANYONE wears any kind of symbol, saying, whatever it invites people to read, to notice and sometimes to talk. I do get wearing something as a reminder (I wear specific jewelry to remind me of those who have passed). I get to see it everyday but no one is any smarter about it. I do hope you will consider my comment and not get as upset when someone recognizes something you have on. For the most part, they probably mean no harm.
Again thank you for writing this blog.
My response,
I appreciate your comment and opinion. I understand that a person may wear an item to remind them of another. I wear my memorabilia to display a remembrance of a past war, my war, the Gulf War.

I welcome an open hearted question on the significant of the symbols I wear today. I am at a point in my life where I recognize the anger and animosity felt within and take responsibility for it. By doing so I do not project it onto other people or make others accountable for it, the consequence being acceptance. Today I wear symbols of integrity and character, to remind me that I can achieve my goals even in the face of great adversity.

There was a time that I wore them for other reasons, to immortalize the guilt I still carry today. I left my guys over there, we killed literally thousands upon thousands of Iraqi soldiers, and finally the 30 soldiers that were trying to surrender. The insignias were my badges of guilt and shame, nothing that I wanted to share in a positive way.

When I wrote this piece I was reminded of the anger and rage I felt that encompassed my being and perspective. I was ready to explode and any excuse was the ember that could spark an inferno. I remember that a well formed question could offset this demeanor and open a reverence and grieving process whereby I could speak of the emotional pain. I was both of these people along with many others.

I see the wisdom in your response and accept it as a reminder that most people want to seek answers that only a combat veteran could expound upon. Today I honor this responsibility too speak on the reality of war and the devastating effects upon the person, family and community.

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