In Memorium

As a military brat, I view Memorial Day not just as a time for cookouts and trips to the beach. I view it as yet another example of America’s indifference to its veterans.

This week, I got the chance to hang out with my sister, Mary, near my childhood hold near what used to be Fort Dix but is now Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst.

We talked about sister stuff like how everyone was doing health-wise, shared memories of my twin brother Dennis, who would have been 59 this year, and the fact that we both have in-laws.

(That last one winds up being funnier than it actually should be.)

But because we grew up on Army bases, and my sister married an Airman and lived chunks of her life on Air Force bases, the subject of Memorial Day came up.

And to be honest, Memorial Day is one of those observations that angers me because all it does is remind me of how we don’t show a whole lot of love to those who have served our country.

The whole idea behind Memorial Day is to remember the sacrifices of the people who died in service to America. While the purists believe that only applies to war, I believe that it also applies to those whose military service exposed them to things that hastened their death.

(Like, for example, the Agent Orange my Dad was exposed to during the Vietnam War that ultimately led to the cancer that killed him. I ain’t mad. Or at least not as mad as I used to be.)

That said, such remembrances are kinda hollow when there’s no recognition of the sacrifice in real time. The City of Philadelphia allegedly has a veteran’s affairs office, but you hear nothing from them.

The military defense budget is large, but soldiers and their families are still living dangerously close to the poverty level. My sister, who still gets into the post exchange —-the on-base shopping center —- says prices have gone up, while salaries haven’t.

And don’t even get me started on the Veterans Administration. I can’t express how I really feel about them without a lot of cursing. What’s sad is that it’s not entirely their fault that they can’t do everything for veterans they want to. When your agency is a political football, it gets bounced a lot.

While I believe that days like Memorial Day should be separated from the politics and policy that made them necessary, I couldn’t help but think about that this year, especially since everything these soldiers fought for seems to be under attack.

Remember that as you grab a beer and eat some barbecue this weekend.

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