• My Mother:Where's Obama?

  • Me: Did he start the wars?

  • Ryan: Sometimes wars are necessary. We may want to look into raising our taxes to help pay for our military men and women instead. We are letting congress pass bills that 1. Have been taking away from the G.I. bill and making it harder for troops to obtain 2. We are alright with keeping troops salaries low, and even lowering the annual raise of troops by %1.

  • Me: I say strip more funding from the DoD and shift those funds to domestic programs. Most of what we spend on Defense goes to defense contractors for R&D and build war machines we don't need.

  • Ryan: What domestic programs are you suggesting? Those war machines are why us privileged Americans get to live such a sheltered life. As if we have not already taken away enough money from our defense programs.

  • Me: Education, food stamps (which an overwhelming amount of vets are on), and the like. In other word, social programs that assist those in need. The military industrial complex is the worst thing this country created. We create wars to fund corporations who make bombs to kill people, then ship our soldiers over to kill people, and when our vets come home from war and need care due to injury or PTSD, we shit on them and give them barely anything in care for their service. Forget the argument that the soldiers are defending our freedom. They are fight for corporate interests, not the safety of you or me. But that's what our corrupt politicians want you to think.

  • Ryan: I very much so agree we need to support veterans and active duty personnel better than we have. We need to make jobs for them and support them in our society. I believe we should support education as well. But saying that American soldiers are fighting and dying just so people can make money is absolute bullshit. Yea, we have had some pretty bad politicians recently. But WE THE PEOPLE voted them in. We made a choice to have shitty politicians. I don't think you understand how lucky you are to have the greatest military this world has ever seen ready to defend your freedom. I also don't think you realize what would happen to our basic liberties if we didn't have such a strong military to protect us.

  • Ryan: Trust me, Ryan, I do understand. I served; I am a veteran. But I have also lived long enough to see that the patriotism you speak of is shit on by corporations and politicians. No one takes that seriously anymore. They are just talking points to keep the American people blind and stupid. Sure, we elected the politicians, but every year we complain about them only to re-elect them again, and that is a symptom of the problem. I've watched and been the recipient of how much our government cares for its veterans and the citizens who elected our politicians, and I find it hard to believe that we the people own our government anymore. Idealism is great to have and to hold and to believe in, but that idealism is only as good as the truth/reality which it stands upon.

  • Ryan: No offense Barry but I do not consider going into boot camp and then dropping out to have qualified as having been a veteran. I think you will find many people in the service take patriotism very seriously. I think it is sad that we do not take the time to truly research and understand the implications of those who we elect. I agree that the party system is extremely flawed. It is something that our greatest fore-fathers warned us about. But it is our fault for letting the parties dictate the elections. Saying that the American military exists only for corporate gain is outrageous.

  • Me: Well then you never paid close attention to my history - my story that I told you a few years ago. I didn't drop out of boot camp - EVER! I was injured, and once healthy enough to walk, served in Support Battalion as a PFC (not a recruit, mind you). I assisted Drill Instructors keeping security and order over recruits who were being kicked out or who were willingly dropping out of boot camp. And while, you may not "consider" my service "qualified to be a veteran" allow me to show you my DD214 some time, which declares me to be so as recognized by my commanding officer and the US government. Do I really have to show you my military record? You don't get one of those without having served and without being recognized as a veteran. Sure, I did not see combat, but I have seen what combat does to people, and I have seen what injuries do to people who love what they do as servicemen only to be shit on by the military bureaucracy. Oh, and not a day goes by with me wishing that my injury never happened - that I did go into combat with the rest of the men I was training with and serving with. Doing what I did takes guts, and going through what I went through takes a lot more - a lot more that many civilians possess. Every day such a history is a painful one for me to look back on, but one I accept. Thus, it does not matter to me what you consider me to be - whether you mean offense or not. I earned what I earned and no one can take that from me - not even the lack of consideration you have as based on what you remember about me. As for "many people in the service take patriotism very seriously," of course they do - so do I. But patriotism does not mean "my country right or wrong," or "my government right or wrong." It means to praise your country when it is right and justified, and to rebuke it when it is wrong. Patriotism is not blind, nor is it "Republican" or "Democrat;" patriotism is and informed citizenry willing to stand up to their government for their livelihood, for their families, for the men and women they are a part, and for the freedom they want to have and keep. And even more so, the reason why our servicemen fight has less to do with what the government tells them to believe and more to do with who the men and women they stand beside are. In fact, anyone willing to sign up to put themselves in harms way for others is a patriot. I did that. I have the memories of that. I have the paperwork and military file to prove it, and I wish I would have kept my uniform too, but such a thing was too painful to look at every time I would wake up to get dressed - and all because it spoke of a life and dream lost.

  • Me: Look, I understand you're all gung ho about the guns you have and the freedom you have and the life you are living. More power to you. But you need to live a little longer to understand what I speak of. You're only what - 18 or 19 years old? I am 34. I have seen a lot more, and done a lot more - suffered more, loved more, and seen more. I stepped up to serve my country right before we invaded Iraq and about a year after we were in Afghanistan, and I did serve my country. I was 23 back then. Have you done that? No offense to you, in all my remarks, but I don't think you understand the complexities, intricacies, as well as absurdities that this life - this system of living (government or otherwise) operates under. I know you love your country, and I know you hold a strong opinion, and I can respect that. I love my country too, but I am not going to praise it when I see it and its leaders turn it's back and be ignorant of the transgressions it's committed. We can have a difference of opinion, sure, but my loyalty does not come with the price of silence or being a "yes man." I have been there and done that, and will not do it anymore because the cost of that sin is too great a cost to bare all for the sake of the status-quot.
    The above is taken from a facebook meme post I shared with regards to Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld needing to donate their current and future pay to the Wounded Warrior Project because of their lack of reasoning and the copious amounts of deception they used in justifying the wars they started.  Yes, this was a political statement, and I was expecting that I might get some responses that disagreed with my view.  However, I suppose I was being naive in not expecting what occurred and the fact is, what was said hurts - hurts deep.  Yet even so, I feel so sorry for the shallowness of this kid's understanding.  In someways I feel like I failed him when he was my student.  Am I wrong?  Is he right?  Should I even be asking this question?  I only bring this up because of the past year or more I've been undertaking.  For the first six months there was a lot of upheaval, and for the last six and more to come there has, is, and will be a lot of healing and changes being made.  

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