In high school, to protest the first Gulf War, I sat vigil on a median while it snowed. In civilian clothes, for fear of retribution, soldiers from Ft. Carson joined our silent vigil. Thirty years later, American forces never truly left and oil continues to be traded for blood. Thirty years later, the guise of goodwill and nation building lifted, the profiteers and pilfering politicians have learned nothing but to send another generation into battle- saving their own children to inherit their place in political office.
America’s leaders, what is right about any of this? Being there does nothing to make us a better country.
At 19, because I protested so loudly before I could even vote, I joined the military to serve our country. From an first generation American grandfather who was dropped behind enemy lines in WW2, I believed in an America that protected the weak and welcomed the stranger. I had yet to learn the history behind the glorified ticker-tape of the victor. I joined the Navy to serve a nation based on freedoms for all. I served, to be able to always defend those who embraced our rights through protest at any cost.
I realize now, how delusional that was because the wars we fight now and forever in our history have had nothing to do with defending our rights. The wars were and are about the money and those who hold the power of industry and militarization. Even the idea that we must embrace our freedoms at any costs is ludicrous. Those freedoms- those inalienable rights- should not have to be fought for in repeated fashion. Furthermore, those inalienable rights most certainly have nothing to do with those who live on the land of the Middle East or what is under the crust of its land.
I once thought I would want my daughter to share my journey, to serve the country I believed in enough to go to battle for, but that is no longer my desire. I will never encourage my daughter to join the ranks of our military. Instead my daughter will know of my journey of protest. Though it seems a fruitless battle in opposing further invasion and murder for oil. We will join arms and let our faces be seen and voices be heard. It may be of little use, but it puts us on the right side of history.
The unfortunate continued battles for our freedoms are not won on battlefields. They are fought in the war-room living rooms of America, planned out by the most common, but bravest of citizens. Freedoms are won in our streets, at counters, in front of clinics, in schools each day. Freedoms are won by artists and writers who move people to action. Freedoms are won in jail cells and court rooms. Bullets and wars are made to create diversion and division- to sustain the status quo. Freedoms are held by the fearless. Those who hold their ground in the face of others who would rather draw blood for perceived differences and the mighty dollar than to sit and talk about our commonalities.
My daughter may go to war, but it will be for those who do not have a voice. The immigrant, the child, a woman’s reproductive rights, our environment and natural resources. Our fights are many and growing each day, but they are not in the desert lands of the Middle East. Our fights are in the streets, homes, and classrooms of America. Our fight is to recognize we are no better than the next person. Our fight is to regain the humanity that is quickly being lost.