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The dead don’t speak

In combat it’s easy to forget when someone is killed. Forget isn’t the right word, but you’re fighting to survive, so you literally don’t get the chance to process the loss in the moment. All good things come to an end however and it’s often not right away that it sinks in. You experience that fresh loss for a long time before it sets in. You forget that the person has died. You look for them in the group you’re serving with until it clicks. The truth is, the most painful part of loss isn’t the initial death. It’s having to live loss that over and over before it finally becomes your reality.

It’s Memorial day, so once again I’m left conflicted. It’s a nice reminder that a few of us are gone and it’s a convenient time to remember and morn that loss. It’s the appropriate and designated time for grief. The weight of that loss doesn’t lessen over time, you just become more accepting of your reality. The weight isn’t lighter, you just get used to carrying it with you. It’s days like today that we remember those who gave their lives for our country. We celebrate, which I think is very appropriate, because we should celebrate these people and their shortened existence. It’s everything else that bothers me.

The dead don’t speak.

It’s easy to forget that. Politicians love to speak for the dead. Service members died for this, they didn’t die for that, they fought for this, they didn’t fight for that. People are messy and loud. We have opinions and thoughts, feelings… feelings are messy. Death is cleaner because I can speak for the dead and there is no one to argue they wouldn’t say that. You have politicians claiming to honor the fallen while those of us who have survived tell a different story. Stories are like that though, told by the victorious and when it comes to those who have died for their country, the only victors are the politicians. The ones who like the idea of killing, but don’t have the stomach to do it themselves.

The dead don’t speak.

It’s a deafening silence, a void begging to be filled and there are far too many people willing to fill that void and tell us what those people died for. They died for freedom. They died for America. They died for our liberties. They died for our protection. In the end, they simply died. Now we have a powerful void we can use to fill in the blank, the reason they died. Because they are dead and don’t get a say in why they died, having a say is for the living. You don’t get a say if you’re dead because you’re dead and have forgotten how to be alive.

The dead don’t speak.

Once again it’s Memorial day and we get a choice in how we celebrate. For those of us who know the dead, it’s a chance to fill that silence with stories of their lives. We get to share who they were, why they were important to us. While they are gone, they were real and left an indelible mark on our lives. We wouldn’t be the people we are today without their contributions, big or small, good or bad. For us, they aren’t just a name on a wall or a ribbon on a gate. These are flesh and bone people, who are always and forever just out of view. As if we could just move our heads fast enough, maybe we could catch a glimpse of them again. If only for a moment.

The dead don’t speak.

For those of us who know the loss, we need to speak for them or risk letting politicians have the first, last, and only say on who they were. I cannot speak for your loss, but I know that isn’t what those whom I’ve lost would want. It’s a responsibility we didn’t ask for, one we didn’t want, but one we still have. Because once again it’s Memorial day and it’s one of several days politicians and corporations like to use the dead as props to advance their agenda. The ultimate weapon, a dead veteran, used against political opponents like they weren’t people with stories or families or opinions of their own.

The dead don’t speak.

So celebrate their lives, mourn their loss, do what feels right to you. We should fill that silence and how we do that is our choice. We shouldn’t let politicians dictate who these people were or what they would have wanted. We are the ones who carry their memories, so we should get the choice on how they are used, or rather not used at all. No service member died so a politician could use their memory as a weapon to advance their own career.

The dead don’t speak.

So we shouldn’t let others speak for them.


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