Today's guest post is from my good friend and occasional commenter Heidi. There's more from Heidi on Twitter: @queerminister.
Anyone else want to get in on the guest-posting fun? Let me know.
Veterans Day is kind of a big deal at my house. This is a new thing for me.
I didn’t grow up in a military or government family (although my Mom’s oldest brother served in Vietnam). I did however marry into a military and government family. Have you seen that movie Meet the Parents? My father-in-law is Robert DeNiro’s character in that movie. People think I’m kidding until they meet him. Then, they discover that I’m not. He’s kind of a gruff, rough around the edges dude on first meeting. He has however discovered that I will bring him his favorite alcohol when I visit, and cook him requested dinners, so I’m in the circle of trust now. That works out well for me.
My father-in-law is also a veteran and retired from the United States government, having served overseas for much of his professional life. My mother-in-law is former government. My sister-in-law is a military wife. My partner’s grandfather was career military. The well runs deep.
It was a little bit of a treat for me to marry into the family. I love my country (a lot) despite all of its faults. I own a scarf in the design of the American flag. I sob my way through the National Anthem and patriotic songs fairly regularly. I still feel awed every time I go into a voting booth. You get the drift. But it’s not totally “PC” in my circles to love America as much as I do.
I’m a queer person, and a liberal, Christian minister. My circles are often full of people who are not only pacifist (which I am too), but deeply anti-war and anti-military. I get a lot of side eye from radical queers when I trot out the flag scarf, or excitedly discuss our 4th of July plans.
And I get it. I really do. I understand the frustration with war that seems endless and exhausting. I share it. I understand that people don’t know what to make of our intelligence work when the NSA is all over the news spying on people in inappropriate ways. I get that the military industrial complex is a real thing.
But here’s what else I know.
I know that my best friend from seminary (a military chaplain and officer herself) is facing her first Veteran’s Day with her husband deployed overseas. She is one of the strongest people I know.
I know that my friend M weathered 6 months of her wife’s deployment under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with almost none of the benefits straight couples get at that time. Someone else was going to get the phone call first if her wife was killed in combat.
I know that my friend C has served 2 tours of duty in Kuwait and Afghanistan, her most recent alongside her father. People at a conference gathering for our denomination actively avoided her mom under the guise of pacifism while both her daughter and husband were at war.
I could go on and on with stories. But I’ll end with this. Today is Veteran’s Day. It’s not about you, or me, or our politics — unless you're a veteran. Today it’s about gratitude, and saying thanks.
Oh, and for the record? I’ve never met anyone as pro-peace as a veteran.
Day 6 of gratitude: Today, I am thankful for our military personnel, our veterans, and their families. I am grateful for their commitment to serve a country who often does not care for them as we should, and the sacrifices they make. I am even thankful for my sometimes cranky, always entertaining father-in-law, and the fact he does not own a polygraph machine.