Memorial Day Random Thoughts

It always gets to us a bit when people thank us on Memorial Day. Thanks are always appreciated, after all, even though our reasons for serving were personal and sufficient and absolutely no thanks are expected or required. And Memorial Day is about the fallen, not the survivors. It’s a day to eat and drink and be merry, because that’s what they’d have wanted, and that’s what we’d have wanted them to do if the ball bounced the other way and the roles were reversed. It is fitting and right.

So we hope everyone had a good day: cookout, beach, ball game, bike ride, whatever way you and your family celebrate life. Because we celebrate the dead by living in their stead — and pausing from time to time in thankful remembrance.

When old soldiers gather, they don’t get long faces when they talk about their fallen friends. They tell funny stories. They keep these souls in heart and memory on this side, for a little longer at least, at least until we all cross over to the other side. That, too, is fitting and right.

Veterans and Hollywood are often at odds. But not everybody in Hollywood is a Sean Penn, Mark Boal or Alec Baldwin who hates, smears and demeans soldiers. There’s a lot of good Americans (and good foreigners, drawn to this quintessentially American industry) there, some of them “in the closet” and some of them “out” — to steal the nomenclature of our gay friends. Some of them are celebrating the lives of the fallen today: Gary Sinise, for one, and Tom Selleck who is at the Vietnam Memorial. Funny that two men who are not Vietnam veterans became so identified with them after playing Vietnam veteran characters, but there it is (Selleck did serve in the National Guard). Sinise will be co-hosting a the National Memorial Day concert at 8PM Eastern tonight, on PBS and NPR (actor Joe Mantegna is the other co-host).

The WWII guys had John Wayne all along, it took the Vietnam dudes a while to get champions like those guys. Like the poor Vietnam throgs, it’s going to take us GWOT guys 20 years to do better than Woody Harrelson, we figure. In the meantime, we can pretend there are no movies: nobody else went to any of the last few years’Iraq or Afghanistan craptaculars, either.

The great cartoonist Chris Muir (who himself is an example of a non-vet entertainer who’s behind the guys and gals 100%) had a Sunday strip yesterday about Josh Tate’s Hell Walk. Don’t know who Josh is, but on Chris’s say-so we’ll commend him to you. (The grey-bearded character in Chris’s strip, Zed, is a retired veteran who was some kind of SF reserve officer — “I keep it vague,” Chris, a non-vet, admits, “because if I get specific I’ll get something wrong!”) Chris is a friend and we hope you’ll check out his cartoon, Day by Day.

Across the country newspapers and TV stations are running Memorial Day human interest stories, some of which are very good — we liked this tale of a family’s long wait for certainty after their relative’s AC-130 was shot down in 1970. Most of the stories, even in the papers that Yes, there are some people whose head is seriously misplaced on Memorial Day. You know where. We’ll discuss them another day. Today…. thrown another burger on the grill. You can eat salad tomorrow; today is the meat-eaters’ day. Have fun — they just might be watching and counting on you.