Veteran’s Day & Lucky Numbers

The “1” button on everyone’s keyboard is surely getting a good workout today. May I suggest being kind enough to split your usage between the “1” above your letters, and the “1” on your number pad. I mean seriously people, give ’em a break!

But that’s not what I meant to talk about. I wanted to talk about lucky numbers, and then move into Veteran’s Day. Ready? Here we go!

Okay first off, my husband’s lucky number is 11. He always had it as a jersey number in school. Also, my birthday is in the month of 11. For that fact alone, I think we were meant to be together. Just sayin’.

Now then, let’s use the hubby mention as a segway into the more important topic here.

Hubby and I just took a trip to the east coast to visit his maternal grandparents. They live near DC and neither of us have been there, so it was truly a wonderful experience. His parents flew in and enjoyed the trip with us, but his dad only stayed half the time. Perhaps the best part about it was going to DC with his parents, then coming back to gramma and grampas house to hear their stories. Gramma moved to DC at the age of 18, and showed us on a map exactly where she used to live. We visited and took a picture of it for her on our second day out there. The building was still there and looked exactly the same. She lit up when she saw it. Grampa remembered the place because that’s where he first saw gramma. Back in the day, it was a girls only house. Boys were only allowed on the rooftop deck and the ballroom. It was a super cute story to hear and a wonderful way to enrich our experience. We also took a couple days to drive to the little rural town in North Carolina where Grampa grew up. We toured a portion of the farmhouse they lived in, saw the church where hubby’s mom was baptized, and hung out with all the friends (well the ones that are left) that Grampa grew up with. The families have been there so long, that the streets are named after them. Four families of friends, with streets named after their parents and grandparents. It was really neat to see. And growing up in an urban community, I’ve long been fascinated with rural towns. It was so cool to see the miles of farm fields, the beautiful homes full of antiques and family heirlooms, and spend the nights hearing their awesome stories. It was also great to be immersed in the southern accent. My internal accent collector put their drawl in its pocket.

Hubby’s parents were hippies. Well, his dad still is kind of. He’s a vegetarian, peace-spreading, classic rock loving dude. He lives in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops and refers to himself as a pretty bitchin’ guy. He is pretty cool actually. His mom, while still very in tune with her hippy self, is a self-taught computer geek who understands that life has a little more gray area in it.

Their son, in the 10 years that I’ve known him, has developed a mysterious fascination with war and weapons. When he has a hall-pass, you can often find him on the couch, enjoying a tv series like The Pacific or Band of Brothers. Let me clarify that he’s already watched both of these at least five times. But he keeps renting them. I don’t know what it is. It’s not like he’s getting all shoot ’em up crazy or anything. He is still the same wonderfully good-natured, incredibly sweet and peace-loving man. I think part of his fascination is the incredible sacrifice of our World War II, Vietnam and Korean War veterans. Not that neither of us recognize that there were (are!) other wars and other veterans deserving of praise. But those are the ones he seems to find most fascinating.

So on our trip, after the four of us had visited as many DC memorials as we could, and before we took the metro back to gramma and grampas house, we all sat down for a warm drink and a little reflection on the day.Unfortunately, this is where things went wrong. His father, a huge supporter of anti-war protests and movements, began ranting and raving about soldiers and going to war. In a nutshell, he found it dispicable that people voluntarily went to war, or did not flee when they were drafted. I was shocked and embarrassed to hear him say that he supported those that spit on the soldiers that  came back from Vietnam. I think if anyone looked at my husband and I at that moment, you would have seen two people with their lips closed tightly, and cheeks bright red. We were both internally fuming. Now his dad can be extremely stubborn, so even trying to address his comments would have been a total disaster in public. So neither of us said anything. His mother, sensing our frustration, started a tangent about our trip that day.

The next day, his dad flew home, and by night time, his mother, being a little overwhelmed by her old parents, decided to come have a drink with us in our room after dinner. We must have all been thinking about it, because the first thing we did was to start talking about his father’s comments. Essentially, the conversation began by hubby and I explaining the many things that disappointed us about his father’s comments. Like how he said he was supportive of those that spit on the returning Vietnam soldiers, and how frustrating it was to hear him say that people that were drafted should have just fled the country. I couldn’t help but add that not taking into account the myriad of reasons why people join the military in the first place (whether it was back then or now), is just simply ignorant. I’ve had a lot of friends come through our town that were in the military, and if it wasn’t for the army/navy/marines, they would never have left their small town. For many of them, it was an opportunity to grow, learn and provide for their families. For others, it was the only option they had, having lived in low-income families, with little positive pathways ahead. I could see how it would be hard for him to see that though, having come from a suburban town with wealthy parents. I didn’t say it so flippantly, but it was difficult to say it nicely. And to enjoy so much freedom in this country, only to turn a blind eye when it comes to protecting those freedoms! As an immigrant, I simply could not support the statement. It broke my heart to hear it in fact. I am so unbelievably lucky that my parents brought us here. And they did it to be free of political persecution, and so we can enjoy and take advantage of all the rights that veterans have helped our country obtain and RETAIN. Did he think that if everyone just fled instead of fighting for their country, that our enemies would just say, “Oh, ok! You guys don’t want to play? Well then, I guess we’re out, too. See ya!” I mean for goodness sakes! Did he think we’d still be here if that’s how every draftee or volunteer played their  cards?!

Hubby’s mother totally understood, and for the most part, she agreed with us.

She explained that his father does in fact see things in black and white, and perhaps doesn’t always consider the intricacies of the issues. Don’t get me wrong, they are both incredibly intelligent people. But stubbornness tends to get in the way with papa bear sometimes. But the way she explained their experiences during the Vietnam War was interesting. Hubby’s parents met in college, where he was the houseboy at her sorority.  (I thought that was really funny by the way.) They both were relatively politically moderate. In fact, having grown up in a conservative household, his mother was mainly conservative. But when Vietnam happened, things changed for both of them. She remembered a time when she picked up a newspaper and saw a picture of a young mother and child, with horrific looks on their faces. It was clear to her, that they were one of the many civilians that would become victims of the war. For both of them, this was a turning point in their political beliefs. The lies they heard from our own American leaders were unbearable, and the fact that their own parents turned a blind eye, made them even angrier. So they turned their doubts and outrage into protests.

I have to say, I can understand that. While not everyone took part in massacres, there will always be bad eggs that will ruin the reputation of the masses. What I CANNOT understand, is why his father would take it so far. For such an intelligent man, how could he turn a blind eye?

Now let me be clear. In my humble opinion, war should ALWAYS be the LAST option. Unfortuantely however, just ignoring it or deciding not to take part, can lead to even more problems. As Americans, most of us will never know what it’s like to have war on North American turf. We hear about it happening far away, and we see our friends go (and some unfortunately not come back) from some far away land. We send them care packages and talk to them on Skype. But most of us will never truly know what it’s like. And then to have so many of our young veterans come back, with soul-less eyes and missing limb, with night sweats and seemingly weird triggers that send them off to a very different, dark place, and to see them practically abandoned in their own country, with not enough resources to support them and help them gently reenter the community – I consider this to be war on our own people.

Perhaps everything I’ve written in this post thus far isn’t the best introduction to what I’m about to say. And there are probably some who will read this, then read where I’m originally from, and want to spit on ME.

But for what it’s worth, I am proud to live in the US. I cannot imagine living in my country of origin, and not being able to experience all that I have in this country. Seeing families disconnected makes my heart hurt. And I cannot thank enough the veterans of the many wars that have helped make my life here possible; those that have made it possible for my husband and I, an interracial couple, to be married; those that have made it possible for my family to own businesses, become educated and have the freedom to walk down the street without fear of being chased by secret police.

Veterans – thank you so much for all you do. My heart goes out to you and your families, who sacrifice years of their lives in the name of this country. I will continue to try and give back to you in the form of services, care packages, and the like. With all the economic and political struggles people face today, “great” may not be the first adjective we use to describe America. But if we were asked to live somewhere else instead, I doubt many would go. It’s more of an implied “great.” Because deep down, I think we all know, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be. And most of us wouldn’t be here, if it wasn’t for the many brave men and women in our lives.

Thank you (infinity).




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