Ben with his puppies
I have been thinking about Memorial and Thanksgiving Day, in light of the present circumstances of our world.
My father was a Marine. He fought in many campaigns in WW2, came home with a chest full of metals for bravery and heroism, and for the rest of his life, avoided discussion of the war. As a child I spent most of my life wondering how he got the metals, until late in his life, he told the story of volunteering to rescue a team of Marines who were surrounded and trapped by Japanese soldiers. He fought through enemy lines, and carried an American back through the lines, shooting with one hand as he accidentally stumbled into a Japanese encampment. He had to fight his way through the camp and somehow made it back, wounded, but alive. He seemed almost ashamed, certainly reluctant in his role as a soldier and a 'hero'. He was fighting against a foe that had attacked Pearl Harbor and threatened the USA. He fought for a President who although crippled by polio, still stood tall and with intelligent dignity. He also fought for his buddies there and for his family back home.
To have been a brave warrior, he never seemed particularly "warrior-like" to me, as a child. In fact, he taught me to avoid violence. "Don't fight, it usually doesn't solve much. Use your brain to deal with problem people." He taught me again and again. He was a brilliant marksman, but didn't enjoy killing animals. We went deer hunting many times together, and somehow he never got around to shooting one. "They are beautiful aren't they" he would comment.
I often wonder what he would think of our nation today, fighting and occupying a nation where we aren't welcome, with our nation divided about whether the war was even the proper thing to do. I wonder what he would think of our young soldiers, fighting and dying there, for questionable reasons. I suspect that he would be very quiet and sad about that.
It seems proper that Thanksgiving Day and Memorial Day, are so closely linked. I think of the people in life who have been kind and loving. And I am thankful. Many of you, who read this newsletter, have become dear friends. I think of people who helped when I was alone. I am so thankful to the ones who were there for me during my surgeries and times of personal loss. There are special people who have been loyal to me and have always looked at my good side, accepting me for who I am, without judging and without the need to hurt me. I think of people who have held my hand when I was lonely and people who have called or emailed to share a bit of cheer during sad days. I am so grateful for those who loved me enough to assume the best about me, instead of assuming the worst. Yes I am the most thankful for those who have loved me without conditions. Over the years you learn who your real friends are. They are always there for you regardless of circumstances. It has taught me what true love is as well. Those are people who are patient, kind, longsuffering, loyal, and true, without selfish motives. People who, when they say, "I love you" , mean it, and that "love" doesn't go away because of some emotional flash point. They simply love, and it is real. You that have really shown true love, deserve the highest thanks, on this Thanksgiving Day.
It has become painfully clear to me, that in life, love often flourishes, until "third parties" with their own agendas push their way in, and "soil the waters" of love. Because, sometimes love doesn't fit with their social, family, cultural or political agenda. Thus, the casualty, love is often lost. I got an email from Cambodia a few months ago. It was a person I had met years ago. She is a fine woman, who has longed for a loving mate all of her life. She finally found a man that she loved. After they professed their vows of love, just 3 weeks later, they had to cancel their marriage because two relatives didn't approve. Two people who didn't love, who weren't involved in the relationship, vetoed the marriage, because it didn't fit their preconceptions or please them. As she said it: "In our culture we cannot marry if our family doesn't all approve."
I have a puppy. Puppies are marvelous things. They love you, wag their tails, and jump and hop and smile and play. They give love and don't judge. They are a joy to watch and a joy to hold. If you accidentally step on a puppy's paw, it will yelp, but then still come back offering love. If only humans could learn unconditional acceptance like that. Then we wouldn't have to invade nations, engage in wars, or reject and hurt others. Think if we could all have love with innocence and joy, and not be so concerned about "third parties" or the agendas of other people. It has become painfully clear to me, that in life, love often flourishes, until "third parties" with their own agendas push their way in, and "soil the waters" of love. Because, sometimes love doesn't fit with their social, family, cultural or political agenda. Thus, the casualty, love is often lost.
I wonder how many thousands of times people have to live their lives in loneliness, or in unhappy relationships, because "third parties" impose their arbitrary judgment and intimidate the life out of love. How many marriages remain in unhappy prisons together, because of the social stigma they fear if they break out and truly seek love and happiness? How many couples love each other, but cannot get together, because of the fear of disapproval from third parties? I lost a marriage because of the intrusion of "third parties" into my life. And I have experienced the pain of losing a loving relationship because of the influence of one or more "third parties". It is painful, no, it is worse. It hurts like hell. I wish to God, that people would mind their own business, unless they can do something positive. It makes one appreciate those who work to encourage loving relationships and who fight and die for the love of others. Thus it is appropriate to "remember" those wonderful people who have impacted our lives in a positive way, on "Memorial Day" and to be thankful for loving people on "Thanksgiving Day". With this message I offer this suggestion: Remember someone who has impacted your way in a positive way. Tell them "Thank You" because they are angels and saints."