Sunday, May 27, 2007

Of Old Men and Young Boys

I forget that my Father is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was my Dad but he was also a veteran of the Vietnam War. I was looking to see if there was a directory of burials at National Cemetery. There is, but it's hidden in the Veterans Affairs website.

My father was drafted just after I was born, he was fortunate to make it back from Vietnam, he flew choppers on reconnaissance and sprayed agent orange which earned him a Purple Heart. After being back in civilian life for about ten years, my father contracted cancer from those chemical defoliation missions and was part of the lawsuit that the government weaseled their way out of. The texture of our lives changed dramatically for the next many years, always aware of the reality of days quickly dwindling.

Discussing my Father's last wishes became casual and matter-of-fact. Our family disagreed with his insistance on being buried so far away in Washington,D.C. We whined that it wasn't necessary to validate his courage, we preferred him to be close to home. We voiced our attitude regarding the Government, but he really felt like the Government owed him at least this much.

Military funerals are very moving and majestically beautiful, but I refuse to romanticize it. It's a dead body garden, of war. No amount of ceremony makes up for the suffering and the waste of lives of young men brainwashed by the selfish greed and poisonous pride of angry old men.

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