The Blog

Memorial Day, 2008: HuffPost Bloggers Weigh In

This Memorial Day, Huffington Post bloggers write about losing a loved one, the reality of PTSD, women in the military, and thoughts for the candidates.
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Yes, that's a harsh headline for this piece.

But I'll ask you to forgive me because, as a Veteran, there isn't a day on the calendar that causes my hatred -- and I do indeed mean hatred -- of George W. Bush to bubble over the top more than Memorial Day.

Dante Zappala: Our Sacrifice:

My National Guardsman brother would be alive were it not for the war in Iraq. I must repeat that to myself with a quiet firmness. For many, Memorial Day represents the promise of burgeoning possibilities, a chance for a BBQ, afternoon beers and family gatherings. We, however, are consumed with flags, tears and the names of our dead.

For my family, Memorial Day bookends a season of anniversaries. For the fourth time now, we have repeated this litany. The last time I saw Sherwood was in February. The last time we talked was in March. His last e-mail came days before his death in April. His funeral was in May. And now we have this weekend to remember him amongst all of the fallen.

Brian was one of more than a hundred active duty soldiers to commit suicide last year. The Veterans Administration now admits that 1,000 veterans are attempting suicide every month. The Army is trying to blame these deaths on personal problems and failed relationships. Earlier this year, their top suicide expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, even put some of the blame on military families, telling a reporter that "Families are getting tired. Therefore, sometimes they're more irritable, sometimes they don't take care of each other the way they should, are not as nurturing as they should be."

I never served but my Marine son did when he was deployed to President Bush's wars. I disagree with the President about invading Iraq, but I'm proud of my son's service. He didn't volunteer to serve an administration but our country.

I live on the Volvo-driving, higher-education-worshiping North Shore of Boston. I'm a novelist, not your usual "military parent" these days. I've learned a little about working class America -- especially the white Americans who live in places like West Virginia and Kentucky who provide an outsized contribution of men and women to our military.

Kerry Trueman: Sacrificial Limbs:

This Memorial Day, most Americans are too busy struggling to feed their families, fuel their cars, and cling to the roof over their heads to spend much time thinking about the sacrifices our soldiers are making on our behalf.

On Memorial Day weekend, yet another American family is mourning the death of son who survived the war in Iraq -- only to fall victim at home from post traumatic shock disorder.

The family lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the Marine was Chad Oligschlaeger, age 21, who committed suicide this week at the Twenty Nine Palms base in California.

This Memorial Day weekend, as we remember our men and women in uniform serving around the world in our armed services, I encourage you also to remember those who serve in our local law enforcement agencies.

They put their lives on the line every day, and every day they have to deal with a criminal element armed with weapons of ever-greater firepower.

Most Americans acknowledge the service of our troops on Memorial Day, whether we agree with our country's involvement in the war or not. But the U.S. Marine Corps is taking advantage of the moment in a new way.

Long a bastion of macho military mystique, they're now actively recruiting women. Ads are running in such magazines as Shape, Self, and Fitness, which mainly appeal to women readers. They show a woman marine striking a martial arts pose in front of a crowd of men, who are supposedly looking up to her as a leader. The tag line reads "There are no female marines. Only marines." In a shrinking economy, these ads may appeal to a lot of women who need jobs. But like most advertising, they don't tell the whole story.

The men and women of the armed services earn our respect. They act on what we as a democracy decide. Most of us just see glimpses of their heroism in history books, movies or the daily news. If we are very lucky, we know someone who has served or who is serving in the military. Lucky, because these men and women sometimes reveal the personal nature of their commitment. What they tell us can be electrifying, shocking, sad, awe-inspiring, but it is always humbling. It makes our debt to them very real.

I am especially lucky because I grew-up with a man who is a veteran. My father-Harry William Deal-fought in World War II and then thankfully, came home to raise our family.