It Boggles the Mind


This just in from my friend Aline Poythress in Virginia:

A young man named Bucky Anderson in Broadway, a town very near us, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and is being buried today.  That alone is an awful tragedy for his family, but to rub the salt into their wounds, those horrible people from that church in Kansas are sending PROTESTERS here to protest the funeral.  They claim that the reason each person is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan is God’s punishment for our allowing gays to serve in the military.  My first husband died in Vietnam and they unloaded his casket at night to transport it to his home town because of protesters.  Our people go to places they don’t want to go sometimes and they follow orders and they fight and die for us.  HOW DARE those people disrupt the sanctity of someone’s son’s funeral and hurt the family even more than they are hurting now?

You know how, Aline.  It’s called arrogant stupidity.  It’s called believing that  your way is the only way and you’re doing a service by showing all those ignorant, wrong-minded people in the world how to mend their ways.  The best thing the Anderson famiy can do is put their chins in the air, turn their backs, close ranks, and ignore the protesters.  You can’t argue with people like that and why would you want to waste your time trying?
(I know from whence I speak — when I was a teenager, I spent an entire useless evening trying to convince a friend’s prejudiced pig father that black people were not inferior.  (This was before the term ‘African American’ came into use and this man — who spiced his half of the conversation with a particular ‘N’ word — could have out-Bunkered the original Archie.)  I left the table in tears, frustrated with my own impotence.  He stayed where he was, smugly drinking coffee.
People never fail to amaze.  We are capable of reaching such grandeur — amazing works of art, music and writing; reaching out in kindness, compassion and empathy — but rest assured there’s a vocal minority out there that will begin to blat their messages of hate and THAT stuff is what will make the evening news.  Some numb-wit will get his or her face in front of the camera and their mouth will start to go.  Trust me — do yourself a favor and go to the toilet while they’re on.  You may as well accomplish something useful until they shut up and go away.
What is it inside some people that makes them need to add more hate t the world?  Can it honestly be something so small as a difference of opinion?  Rhetorical question, and I’m being purposely naive.  Of course it can.  Differences of opinion are behind every battle  — You don’t agree with me about religion, abortion, homosexuality, war, property lines (the list goes on, take your pick), so I’m going to kill you, beat you, humiliate you (again, the list goes on).  My gosh, we live in a world where someone will pull a gun out of their glove compartment and blow away the person who beat them to a parking space at the mall.  In Christianity, God is supposed to have said, “Thou shalt not kill.”  I don’t recall any footnote that read, “Except when you want to.”
Every few years, there’s a protest staged at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.  I’ve only seen one (briefly, as I was driving by).  Someone connected with the venture, upon learning that my husband and I have been Coast Guard sponsor parents, tried to harangue me about being “for” war instead of peace.  When I replied, in essence, that I “hate the war, but love the warrior,” I was told that was bullshit.
Excuse me?  Why is that?  Because you say so?
Guess again.
I’m not for war.  I’m not for anything that promotes bombs and death and dismemberment and orphaned children and bereft families and blood and hate and fear and terror and desperation.  I do, however, believe in duty and honor, and I’m smart enough to know in my gut that as much as I would never, ever, EVER want to point a gun at another person and pull that trigger…if someone I loved were in danger, you bet your ass I would.
I love and respect my Coasties.  I don’t have to agree with every choice they make in order to love them.  I hope they never have to take a life.  I pray they are never put in harm’s way.  But they have chosen to do what they do, to place themselves where others care not to go, so that we don’t have to.  Whether it’s in a tank, behind a gun, in a helicopter, dropping into the sea or the jungle…they, and all of the other men and women who serve this country, are there so I don’t have to be, so YOU don’t have to be.
Gay, straight, white, black, red, brown, yellow, male, female…what does any of that matter in the face of a life cut short, a mother’s grief, a father’s heartbreak?
Rest in Peace, Bucky Anderson.  And thank you.


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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Coast Guard, death, dying, Gay/Lesbian, Melissa Crandall, War, Writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to It Boggles the Mind

  1. MJ Allaire says:

    From a friend, fellow author, and Veteran – well said. Too many lives are lost, all around the world, for the wrong reasons. We need to look past our anger, our frustrations, and our misunderstandings and try to love one another. If we can’t do that, what good are we?

    Rest in peace, Bucky.

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