Gratitude Sunday: In Service To Our Country

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday Haiku
Poppies, remember,
scarlet red blood men give for
freedom of others.

Sunday Musings
We’ve come around again to Memorial Day. For many of us it’s the beginning of summer, vacations, no school, easy living, barbeque season. For some of us, not so much.

I used to have to look it up every year, the difference between Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Armed Services Day. Once again here is the “official” definition:

Armed Services Day (third Saturday of May) is meant to honor people currently serving in the military.

Memorial Day (last Monday of May) is meant to honor people who died while in military service or because of injuries received in military service.

Veteran’s Day
(November 11) is meant to honor people who survived military service and are still here among us to tell their stories.

***Let me clarify when I refer to America I refer to the United States of America and when I say “Americans” I mean citizens of the United States of America, as per the common/conventional definition of Americans. I have never in my life seen or read or heard of us referred to as “United Staters” or “US of Aers” or “North Americans”. While citizens of Canada and Mexico are technically Americans because they reside on the North American continent, they are not “Americans”, they are Canadians or Mexicans. Likewise residents of South America are technically “American” but you will never hear of a Brazilian or Peruvian or Colombian being referred to as American or “South American”.***

People who choose military service are unique, because what they are trained to do is not easy or natural, nor an easy choice. They are willing to be trained to kill in order to defend our United States; they might be directed to kill and they might have to direct others to kill. Service of this kind deserves significant recognition because of the difficulty of service.

In America, choosing military service is one of the few ways to have an “affordable” education, a fairly secure and well-paid career, and retirement. But you must be willing to kill, or at least be trained to kill, and that is a step beyond which some people are able to commit to as a part of their daily lives.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I consider myself a part of the “well regulated militia”, part of the “Home Guard” if you will, which most people consider to be the National Guard. Until the National Guard has an armory and permanent residential presence in every town, large and small, in America, we cannot consider ourselves protected, as whatever National Guard is available can be called to service in an area far away in distance from you. The Home Guard is all of us, every individual, every family, our neighbors, our neighborhoods, everyone living in our wider communities. Police departments are a different service and cannot be counted on for protection against a foreign invasion, and many other kinds of invasions as well.

I’ve always considered it part of my responsibility as a citizen to be prepared to defend my home, my family, my self, and my community, without need of a uniform or professional training. I was lucky to have learned safe gun handling at the knee of my deputy sheriff father, and judgment and caution at the hand of my mother. I’m not advocating we should all be armed; that’s an entirely specious and facile argument, as most of us have no need for guns.

This is a sensitive subject right now, as guns in the hands of some people create havoc and chaos, and threaten the lives of our children and the communities in which we want to live peacefully. I’m not going to enter the gun debate here, suffice it to say there are many things we can do differently at little financial cost to us and to the benefit and added safety of many.

I appreciate the service of people who are willing and able to take the step into military service. We do them a great disservice after they complete their commitments and that is meat for another essay which I won’t do here. People who serve carry the burden of their memories the rest of their lives, and few of them are willing to share the stories. Having had some personal experience with trauma, I suspect sharing the stories often reactivates the trauma. People are not hard-wired for war and purposeful killing because an elite tells you to do so. War is highly over-rated; it is a money making machine. We must progressively work to change our societal mind-set away from war as a profit making endeavor. Even in a consumer-capitalistic society there are millions of other profitable enterprises besides war.

I maintain whether you served our country in military service or not, as citizens we are all in service to our country and our communities. Strong citizens make change in their societies and it begins at the personal, family, and community levels. Let me give you some examples.

Have you ever volunteered in a youth group like Boy Scouts or 4-H? Raising young people to be contributing citizens is a service to our country.

Do you obey traffic laws when you share the road? Sharing is a hard lesson to learn, but when everybody follows the rules of the road we are all safer.

Have you ever volunteered to teach a class? Imparting knowledge to others is a service to our country.

Have you ever volunteered to assist in a classroom, or a church, or at a city sponsored event, or the county fair? Assisting professionals and sharing yourself and your knowledge and your abilities is service to our community.

Do you work in a courthouse, a hospital, a school, or a library? Do you work over a retail counter, cook food in a restaurant, clean up after other people, drive a public transit bus? If you are able to work at any honest gainful employment, and do your best, you are serving your community as well as yourself.

Do you pay income taxes, state sales taxes, county or state property taxes, city or municipality taxes? Did you realize in most states every time you buy gasoline, register your car or boat, buy a bottle of liquor or beer or wine or a pack of cigarettes, pay a land-line phone bill, buy a pre-paid phone card, or pay your utility bill you are paying additional taxes which go toward your community and nation? We are financially supporting our families, our communities, and our country with our well-earned dollars. (We can argue the wealthy elite and corporations who do not pay taxes because of rigged tax laws are not contributing citizens and are failing their duties and responsibilities as citizens.)

Did you work for 30 or 40 years or more before your body or mind started failing and you decided it was time to not work so much, maybe even retire? You deserve some comfort after being a contributing member of American society for however many years you were able to contribute.

Are you older now and doing less? Spending time with younger members of your family and community is an invaluable contribution to your community especially if you are sharing stories of the past and encouraging ideas toward a better future for all.

Are you kind to everyone you meet both inside and outside of your workplace and family? There is no greater service to humanity than to treat people as kindly as you want to be treated yourself.

We are all in service to each other, every day. It’s how a society survives and thrives. It’s easy to get off track especially in a consumer-capitalistic society which places competition above the values of cooperation. We can step up every day, one person at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time.

This weekend as you serve up your grilled hotdogs or visit the cemetery your loved ones now live in, when you take your moment to acknowledge those who stepped up to military service and gave their lives in service to Americans, take another moment and consider the contribution of every citizen who has gone before us, military or not, who has served in their own way, perhaps as a father who provides for his family or a mother who served in the PTA or a child who did not qualify for military but chose to go into social work as a way to contribute.

We are all in service to each other to better humankind. It’s not a competition. It’s easier than you might think to be kind even to people who aren’t like you, people you don’t know, and people you may not love. It’s one of the freedoms we fight for.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – So many lovely bloomers I don’t know the name of yet. This bright pink grows across the street. A light pink on a burgundy leaved tree-bush grows a few houses up. Brilliant yellow blossom, perhaps of the ranunculus family. A rose is a rose and a mighty pretty pink one this is.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Greatest Showman (2017, rated PG), a musical about PT Barnum. While I enjoy them, I often find musicals a bit disconcerting. Nobody in real life just knows all the lyrics to the same song and spontaneously bursts into solos, duets, and fully choreographed production numbers. Musicals are so Mickey and Judy “let’s put on a show in the barn” enthusiastic and entirely implausible. That would be Rooney and Garland for younger readers. Musicals about theater or other musicals sort of make sense to me, otherwise I don’t always connect. The music, the whole raison d’être of the genre, must be especially memorable, that is, if I don’t leave a musical singing one of the tunes, it hasn’t made an impact, and not in the style of Chicago, where that one word was repeated to the point of dizzying nausea. I loved the fantastic stage presentation of Wicked when my sister took me to see it in Portland, but not one song came away with me. Most of the songs from The Wizard of Oz, from which the character in Wicked was taken, can be sung by entire generations. That said, despite implausibility with Hugh Jackman in the lead, I found myself enjoying the movie. Part of the implausibility was the movie is a period piece, but the music is contemporary in both lyric and composition. So, I loved the costumes, laughed at some of the choreography and lyrics, and came away with a tuneful ear-worm that lasted a few days. * Had to view it, of course, the original The Women (1939, not rated) same story as the 2008 version with Meg Ryan in the lead, but the original has all the classic actresses of the era: Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, Joan Crawford and others. Love these old black and white films where the women are giddy with their roles and line deliveries. 1939 was also the year The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind were produced, and the first year Technicolor was available for use. Only the fashion show sequence employs the new Technicolor technology, a bright spot in the film. These were the days women still wore hats and gloves when they went out in public and since fashion is the focus of the story, we get to see beautiful clothing and hats in all sorts of settings.

Currently ReadingThe Woman in the Window (2018, fiction) by A. J. Finn, all the twists and thrills of a Hitchcock movie, I only hope when they make this movie they capture the suspense the novel does. * Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer (2018, sociology) by Barbara Ehrenreich, who makes a case against the medicalization and thus commodification of the body.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Getting a long unfinished task done and off my dining room table before the deadline.
  • Being all hubrised when I found a couple words spell check did not recognize and I had to use my own brain to make sure they were right. Are you smarter than a spell checker? Laughing at myself.
  • Recovering from a recent bout with an old virus my body has harbored since I was 7 years old. Glad my immune system is still cooperating when supported by an anti-viral medicine.
  • Having the wit to finish another post during the distraction of health issues.
  • The patience and courtesy of a recent customer service person when I had a list of weird and difficult questions. Now she knows all the answers to those odd questions, and she knows how grateful I was for her taking the time to find the answers and her kind patience to help me through understanding them.
  • Untying the colorful ribbons from the hubster’s birthday balloons that finally need to go into the trash, so I can re-use the pretty ribbons.
  • Following in the steps of my grandmothers who re-used everything they possibly could before recycling became a buzzword.
  • Tweezers.
  • The reliability of our local farmers market.
  • Sugar Snap peas, love being able to eat pod and peas.
  • Oregon strawberries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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