Are We Honoring the Fallen?
By RU Rob
Over the last couple of years I have matured in ways I never imagined possible. As I get older I am less sensitive to things that, as a younger man, would have set me off in an instant. Celebrity deaths are one of those things.
Two or three years ago when a celebrity died and the world went crazy in mourning I would have been hootin’ and hollerin’ to not forget our troops and provide specific names of fallen warriors who had recently entered the Halls of Valhalla. But is that realistic? Is the majority of the American public expected to know that LCpl Matthew Rodriguez of Fairhaven, Massachusetts died on December 11, 2013?
This became clear to me in a discussion the other day with other Rhino Den writers in our forum. One of our writers posted a recently popular meme that has been making its way through Facebook that I will not post here out of respect. The meme stated, “This is not some beautiful Hollywood actor, he didn’t drive fast cars, walk a red carpet or date some useless starlet. This is a Marine” and it goes on show a picture of the Marine and the date that he passed. The comments that several of the writers left are what spurred these thoughts. They don’t know that I am posting this so I will leave them anonymous.
Writer #1 “What do you guys think of memes like this? I’m probably guilty of posting them in the past, but I’ve begun to think we should be above complaining that the civilians pay more attention to dead celebrities than soldiers. I signed up to serve, not get headlines. Honor the fallen, of course. But they’re ours to honor, I don’t expect civilians to do anything but lead their lives. Am I off-base here?
Writer #2 “I agree. You can’t expect 100 million people to mourn a guy they never knew existed. It’s dumb.
Writer #3 “Yeah, these are crap. Another form of FB attention whoring: ‘Look at how righteous I am and how fucktarded the rest of America is!’ Yeah, no shit, nobody outside his unit and family know who LCpl Schmuckatelli is. Big surprise.”
Writer #4 “Agree. America is put in touch with the character of an actor in various movies and TV shows. Then they are further immersed in celebrity fanaticism by the constant, unending gossip. They rarely get such a connection with a service member. We are more closely associated with a yellow magnetic ribbon and the phrase ‘care package’. When we are associated with more…it goes right back to Hollywood and war movies. Nature of the beast I guess. I equate it to the shit bag that always gets out of working while the reliable ones work late. Nobody questions it as long as everything seems to be getting done.”
Writer #5 “Ok, good. I’m glad I am not the only one who thinks that way…”
Writer #6 “I’m probably more vitriolic about entertainer-worshipping than anyone and I’m at the point where I just accept it. It’s an entertainer’s job to make an emotional connection with the audience and a Soldier’s job to anonymously protect that audience. It’ll never be just or merciful, but it’s America.”
Think about that for a minute. What you just read came from the mouths of some of the most military supportive, patriotic, hard-charging, pipe hitting warriors I have ever met. It wasn’t until I had read them in their entirety that I realized I agreed with them but at the same time wondered…
Are we doing our fallen a disservice by complaining the general public doesn’t know them?
As Veterans, we know the hardships and will never forget our brothers and sisters who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Let’s face it, the American public stopped their general concern for our fallen right about the same time the news cycle shifted from the wars back to the cyclic rotation of who’s who in Hollywood that was arrested again for drugs, DUI, wife-beating, etcetera.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that every one of our warriors deserve nothing but the greatest honors and accolades, but at the same time it has also been brought to my attention by a mentor of mine that “There are some people you can train, teach, and buy books for, but all they’ll do is eat the covers.”
Maybe it is time that we stop thumping our chest while screaming at the world to look at us and go back to focusing on honoring the fallen as only we know how. Because there are some that will never quite understand the way we do.