Jeff Seymour - Author of Fantasy, Literary Fiction, & c.: Memorial Day

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Here in the United States, today is a day to stop and think about the people who have died in the name of and wearing the uniform of the country. For some people, it's very easy to forget that. It's easy to think it's a day off, or a day for seeing family, or a day to get all that yardwork done. It can be all those things too.

But first and foremost it's a day to remember, and to honor, and to respect. I say this as someone who has a troubled relationship to this country's history and the things people have done in its name. My reading tends to include a lot of articles designed to remind us of all the horrible things the U.S. government and its armed forces have done.

Despite that, I find it superlatively important to remember that "the government" and "the army" are and always have been made up of individual human beings with thoughts, dreams, personal lives, struggles, strengths, weaknesses, failings, successes, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect until they, personally, lose that through their own actions. Soldiers, in particular, are people whose lives are forever changed by something larger than they are---ideally the collective will of their society, but sometimes the collective will of a small part of it instead. They are never the same when they come back as they were when they left. And when they die during or because of their service, the loss of all the potential their lives held is a tragedy as deep as any other.

So stop. Remember. Mourn.

It is more important than other things you have scheduled today.

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