Pursuit of Happiness

    This post warrants a personal introduction, so that you can fully understand the point I intend to make.

Army SFCMy name is Dann Martinez, and I have been proudly serving in the US Army for 19 years.  I had served a month shy of 10 years, and I “got out” as I wanted to be near my father during his final few years (we only got a few months, but that’s another story, for another time).  I had ceased my military service in December of 2001, and had been planning on doing so for a year by the time I got out.  I was flying from Georgia (where I was stationed) to California (where I am from) for job interviews during that year, and had a great one locked up.  Then 9/1/1 happened… my job vanished as a statewide hiring freeze ensued but I got out anyway.  I was off of active duty (still served in the National Guard) for 8 months.  For the duration, I felt conflicted about leaving the service.  I was happy I did so as I was near my family and specifically my father, but I felt as if I had abandoned my “brothers” in their hour of need.  I was managing a restaurant (a job I loathed), and in July 2002 I came home from work and told my wife that I had joined the Army again.  I have been on active duty ever since.  If you’re familiar with the military, I was one of the “hard chargers,” I volunteered for the tough jobs and schools, I wanted to do all I could.. maximize my experience and value to the service.  I went back in the Army not because I couldn’t find other work, or because the money is great.. I did so because I am good at what I do, and my I felt that my “brothers” needed my help.

     This particular post must be read in its entirety.  If you start it and get upset with me and don’t read the rest, you’ll just be mad, and my final point won’t be made.  If you’re here and reading, please do us both the service of finishing what you started, and read through to the end.

Protesting military funerals

One of my Facebook friends posted something a few days ago about the church in the mid-west that protests at military funerals and it got me to thinking.  Here’s where I start you off angry with me in this post:

I’m glad they protest, but I hate that they do it.

It is through silent dissent that we can make a difference in the world around us, making our desires and feelings known to those who are supposed to represent us.  That freedom is somewhat unique to the United States, and for most of the other people of the world who also enjoy it, it’s a lesson that they’ve learned from us.  I’m supremely proud that these people have the right, the freedom, to protest whatever they don’t agree with.  That’s one of the rights I conscientiously defend.  It’s one of the reasons I do what I do.

The problem I have with the protests being discussed, is that they are not silent and are thus infringing on the families freedom for the “pursuit of happiness.”   Our freedoms only go so far as they don’t infringe on the freedoms of others.  In protesting a funeral, they are doing just that.

A funeral is not carried out for the benefit of the deceased, it’s for the living.  It’s to celebrate who that person was to us, and helps us heal.  It’s a point from which we can move on in our own lives.  It’s a visual manifestation of the finality of death, and the emotional wound begins to heal.  The boisterous protests detract from that effect fully, and steal that moment of “happiness” from the living.  If you want to protest at a funeral, by all means do so, but have the class to do so quietly and peacefully, and allow those in attendance who are there for other reasons to “conduct their business” as they see fit.  If I am ever in attendance at such an event and a high volume protest breaks out, I have no doubt my actions would be to interact with the protesters.  I don’t agree with what they do at all, and find it personally offensive, but I am supremely glad they are able to do it.  In protesting violence, they are almost encouraging it as this is a subject that people feel passionate about and they are protesting “against the grain” for most people.
Flag burning

     Over the years, there have been displayed several pictures and videos of people burning flags… in the US we see our own flag being burnt, but if we lived somewhere else and people were angry with that country (France for instance), then that is the flag we’d see in flames.  This doesn’t bother me in the least.

If a husband and wife are having a major fight, and the wife destroys something that belongs to her, she’s destroyed her own item and the husband wouldn’t care… why would he?  If, however, she destroys something that they owned jointly (a wedding picture for instance), then he has reason to be upset.  It was not HER item, it was THEIRS.  She had no “right” to destroy something that doesn’t solely belong to her.

If you want to light something on fire that you have purchased, by all means, knock yourself out.  You bought it, it belongs to you, why would I care what you do with it?  You can purchase an American Flag at walmart, how serious can this really be?  So long as you don’t burn MY flag, or OUR flag… I’m good with it.  This is just another example of people showing their discontent with the status-quo.  By all means, voice your opinion… how else will we know what you want?

I understand that it’s a “representation” thing, but it just doesn’t bother me.  People frequently get mad when you try and help them and only in the end, when the final result of the action is present, do they understand your actions.  Much like raising a child, you will do what you know is best for them and they will get mad at you, but generally as they age and become more wise, they will understand your actions… often repeating them with their own children.  If you believe the flag to be an effigy for yourself personally, I can understand your discontent.  I just don’t take it personally.

If you don’t already know, the PROPER method to dispose of an “unserviceable” flag is by burning, albeit in a specific manner with careful preparation.  If I had to venture a guess, I would say that we as Americans treat our own flags that we hang on our homes in a far worse manner than people who burn it in protest.  At least they are showing their passion at a political situation, but when someone just throws an old flag away, I find that far more disgraceful.  Before we get upset at someone burning an american flag that THEY have purchased, let’s make sure that we are treating our own correctly.

Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones… or something like that.

Links:

How to properly display your US flag

Proper disposal of a US flag

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