I consider myself to be pretty "Army" - pretty, "USA! USA!". I consider myself to bleed red, white, and blue (and purple and gold, but that's a totally unrelated matter). I support our troops with my entire being. I will always stand when the flag passes. I will quietly cry when I hear the national anthem. My deepest gratitude lies with our soldiers. I don't even have words that express what goes through me when I see a flag draped coffin.
I have no words for those who give their lives for this nation. I have thousands of tears - gratitude, sadness, pride, honor, hurt ... and none of those are the right words.
When I see the families of the fallen ... my heart hurts.
All of me feels whatever emotions I don't know how to write. It floods my entire being and it never really goes away.
Over the last several days, I have been struggling over an event that occurred that has the social media world all over the place. And at no point did I feel a need to address publicly the loss that took place. I honestly just didn't see what was coming. It wasn't where my mind went - so when I saw the response of much of the military community I had to examine myself. I felt wrong, and ashamed, and confused - so confused and conflicted with what I felt and didn't feel.
For as long as I have been able to talk, I have loved to sing. I remember taking my sister's tapes and my little tan, fisher-price tape player and sneaking into my closet to sing. I sang in the shower. I sang walking outside. I sang in my bathroom mirror, holding a hand towel, pretending to get as worked up as she did - wiping away fake sweat. I sang sitting beside our organist at my mom's choir practice. And the song I sang most often, with all of my little heart behind it, was "I Will Always Love You."
It is one of the first songs I learned to play on the piano (trust me, I don't really play piano, but I thought I could). Every talent show in girl scouts, every recess opportunity, I was singing that song.
When Whitney died, I honestly didn't feel much. I wasn't surprised. I was a little disappointed. I guess inside I was always rooting for Whitney to overcome her addictions. Her voice ... man, I wanted to have that voice.
And at no point did I feel the need to tweet or post a status about it. Yes, I watched Jennifer Hudson at the Grammy's and, yes, I thought she did a remarkable job in what must have been the most difficult moment of her career. Yes, I will miss her voice.
Yes, her voice shaped a big part of who I dreamed of being for a period of my life. And despite whatever she became down the road, that is what I think of - the Whitney I pretended to be.
Like I said, I don't think you can get much more gung-ho for our troops than I. But at no point did I think that for feeling any iota of sadness over the death of Whitney Houston meant that a person was dishonoring our fallen. There were some status updates and pictures that made me question if I was wrong. If I was forgetting those who gave their lives by remembering this one person.
I can't tell you how much I struggled with what some pages posted - what some military support pages posted, what army wives were posting. Because I just couldn't see that by remembering one it means we forget the many.
I just didn't see it that way.
I do believe that our troops that fall in battle are worthy and deserving of the highest honors by the American people. I do believe that their sacrifice is beyond noble, that it is the greatest sacrifice. I do agree that many people do not have the same understanding of the reality of this as many of us. I do understand that the public reaction to the death of a superstar is far different from the death of a soldier.
But I have sat beside my husband while he voiced his final wishes. I held his hand as the deacon who married us asked questions about the funeral and his wishes for burial and the readings and a public or private service. And while every night I pray that this day never comes. That I never bury my husband ... while I pray and pray and pray ... that ... that my boys will never be presented with ... folded flags ...
I know that if that day comes. If C ever falls ...
... I know ...
I know that he will want nothing more than to be remembered by those he loved.
He would not want his name blasted on the internet, or his funeral shown on national news, or strangers singing songs in his honor. That isn't why he does what he does.
I know he would not care if the social-media-world knew of his death. He would want those he loved - for his children - for those he thinks of when he goes into battle to remember and to celebrate his life.
He would never want to be forgotten.
And oh (deep breath) he would never be forgotten.
Our fallen soldiers and their families are deserving of our highest honors and deepest gratitude. We must speak their names and remember the ones they fought for.
They are worthy and deserving and ... I do not have the words. Their lives were part of something greater - their deaths are part of something greater.
I don't see it as our place to reprimand people for responding to any one else's death. I don't think that honoring someone else in any way lessens the honor shown to our fallen.
Maybe the world doesn't react the way we react - the way we might think a nation should react for those who give their lives for it. Maybe that is where the change is needed. Yes, people need to have a better understanding of how we honor our fallen. But it will not come from blasting those who are saddened by another loss. The two just are not the same.
Maybe I just don't understand. I am sure I didn't do a good job of explaining how I feel. Forgive me for going a little all over the place. Forgive me if what I said offended you. That is not my intention. I just don't see the connection people are making and I cannot see how speaking about one can mean a person doesn't recognize the other. I don't see it.
What do you think?