Monday, May 27, 2013

A Pacifist on Memorial Day

Memorial Day Avenue of Flags at Oswego Cemetery
Memorial Day.  It is a bizarre holiday for a pacifist.  My father proudly served in WWII and remained in the military reserves to retire a full bird Colonel.  Which, to me was always about as twisted as could be since he was a very humble mild-mannered man.

But, he 100% believed in 'his' war, in his country, and that what our politicians tell us is truth.  In a nutshell - he would always drink the political Kool Aid.

Then, along comes this PITA daughter who was a kid during the Vietnam War, who doubts before believing, who feels strongly that if we would spend our military budget on helping people there would be food, housing and healthcare for everyone on the planet.....

My Dad's Flag, Colonel Robert Carpenter
Yes, there was a chasm between us.

But having said that, I hold nothing against my dad - I'm proud of his accomplishments and of all who have served the country.  And time may tell if one side is right or wrong - we all have our beliefs  and somehow, fighting over whether it is right to fight never seemed like something to pick up a gun and  - well, fight over.

The family wasn't always so smart!
Every year on this day I pop in my car and drive to the cemetery west of town where nearly 300  full-sized flags line the roads - honoring the Oswego men (and I think at this point it is only men) who have served and passed away.  There is a flag for my father and one for my grandfather.  At their graves are smaller flags - not only for those who purchased the large flags but for everyone buried there who served.  The cemetery is a riot of red, white and blue.

And, then, taking in the sight of all these flags and thinking about what that means - I come to the grave of John.  Dirty laundry. REAL dirty.  But, it is waving out there for all to see.  John Carpenter  - 1832 - 1908.  Probably the only Confederate flag flown at the cemetery belongs to my relative.  Great great grandfather, perhaps?  I'm tempted to tear the flag down - perhaps burn it  in its place - but out of respect for 'ole John I leave it be.  I think the story goes that he wasn't just a Confederate, but a body guard to Jeff Davis.  sigh…….

So, in celebration of the day - I share with you the flags - even the dirty little secret one.

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