I’ve been in my office all night working. I may head out to a party later, but other than that I’ve been at my desk. At first I felt bad for myself. Stuck working on a holiday, which is the first day in a month that it hasn’t rained. I’m not kidding about that either. It’s rained every day for a month before this.
But then I read this and I promptly wanted to kick my own ass.
I hate to sound cliche, but there are men and women out there in deserts getting shot at. They’re puking up their guts after 3-day walks in the desert hauling 100-lb packs on their backs. They’re trying not to pass out in the middle of an Afghani wasteland, all the while being on the lookout for people trying to shoot them. They haven’t seen their families in months, and in some cases years.
And I’m upset because I had to work in an air-conditioned office, away from my wife and son for eight hours.
It’s awful of me, but sometimes I forget what these men and women do for all of us. And when I remember, it always hits me such overwhelming force. They’re dying. They’re traveling to third world shitholes and they’re dying. For me. For all of us. Some of them just 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Dead.
I’m not a huge fan of fireworks and crowds. And all the patriotic music, ridiculous stars and stripes clothing, and Toby Keith’s bullshit posturing really don’t do it for me anymore. July 4 has taken on a more solemn tone for me over the years, especially as friends of mine have been shipped off to war. Thankfully they’ve all come back, but many haven’t. And even the ones who are back safe and sound have seen and heard things they can never forget. They experience that hell so others don’t have to, and it makes me simultaneously ill and immeasurably grateful.
So I sincerely hope you enjoyed your hot dogs and your cookouts and your boats on the lake. You should, it’s a holiday. But drink one for our soldiers too, and remember they are displaying the ultimate kind of patriotism.