The Defense Department says Specialist Brian M. Anderson died Saturday of wound he received when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. Anderson was 24 years old.
Disclaimer 1: This is one of those awkward posts, where I’m not entire sure of my thoughts, feelings or beliefs on this whole situation. I have a deep respect for anyone who goes to war to fight for what they believe, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with what they believe. However, I fully understand that a lot of people will disagree with what I think. It’s one of the downsides of living in a country where liberty is a major piece of the foundation, and where freedom of speech is one of the pillars. I have the right to believe anything I wish, FOR SO LONG AS it doesn’t interfere with your right to do anything you wish. I also have a poorly formed opinion on soldiers and how they should be remembered in death, as well as in life, and I have a right to voice that opinion, whether you like it or agree with it or not. If you like what I think, good for you. If you don’t like what I think, that’s your right. I am not forcing you to read what I write, it is by your choice. It’s what freedom and liberty are about.
Disclaimer 2: The only reason I know his name is because he died in the service of his country. I have nothing but respect for the men and women who are prepared to lay down their lives for what they believe. This post has nothing to do with those brave soldiers who volunteer their services to the armed forces of their countries, and I mean no disrespect to any degree to the men or women who have fought and died, fought and lived, who are fighting now, or who will fight in years to come for the ideologies instilled in them by their parents, their friends, and their political leaders. This post is also not aimed explicitly at Specialist Anderson or at his family specifically, this is about my observations of the people in this town and their reaction to the news that a Broadway man had been Killed in Action. May he rest in peace, and be appropriately remembered for his life and for his service to the United States of America.
This is my situation. It quite possibly applies to many others living in this country right now, and more than likely applied to others in some form or another in decades past. Friends and family, classmates and workmates, many people knew him or knew who he was. I am not one of those people. The only reason I know his name is because it was in the newspaper, because it was on facebook, and because people have been talking about it. The only reason I know how he died is because it was in the newspaper, because it was on facebook, and because people have been talking about it. But I can’t help but wonder if the only reason I know who he is now, is because he is dead.
For many soldiers, returning from war alive is not a big thing. Only once have I seen a veteran publicly thanked by another man for his service outside of an event intended for their memorial. I was leaving Burger King on Route 33 in Harrisonburg one day, and I noticed a man who looked to be in his 40’s approach an older man wearing a shirt signifying his participation in an armed defense force (I think it may have been the Marines, but I don’t remember). He asked the elder man if he had served, and after receiving a positive answer he asked which war. I believe the answer was Vietnam, after which the younger man offered his hand and said (..something along the lines of..) “Thank you for your service to our country.” It is something I think should happen more often. For all of the men and women who come home in coffins, many more come home breathing. The ones who die deserve our respect and our remembrance. But if anything, we need to give more to the ones who return alive – they are the ones who have suffered the effects of war and have to deal with them beyond their discharges from the military units they served with. The ones who return alive are the ones who, at best, have to deal with the mental and emotional effects of being in battle and losing buddies, or in some cases, more lasting physical problems resulting from injuries sustained in combat.
While I don’t entirely agree with the notion that we are fighting for American Freedom by being at war in Iraq or Afghanistan, the soldiers who are fighting in it have nothing less than my respect and my support. The people responsible for them being there are a different story entirely, and I would like little more than to see the leaders making more public moves in terms of steps to getting the men and women of the American Military out of the warzones and to see more rebuilding in the shadows of destruction that we have seen over the last 10 years.
“Wait, he’s not even American. Why should I care what he says?” — You’re right. I wasn’t born here. I don’t fully understand or like or agree with a lot of the cultural things that go on here. In many ways I’m torn as to how I think I should feel about a man I didn’t know who I feel is only famous now because he died serving a military branch overseas in a time of war. Had he come home alive, I doubt as much attention would be cast on him. But he did die while fighting for something he believed in, and for that alone I feel he deserves my respect.
This is not a political thing for me. I could care less who started for war, or who was in power during its time and who brought it to an end. My feelings on “bringing freedom” to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan is another issue entirely. I just hear a lot of people saying things, and see a lot of people doing things, and I wonder why. I don’t know any family members of any men or women Killed in Action to know how they feel when they are offered condolences for their loss by people who didn’t know their son or daughter, when the only reason anyone is remembering their child is because they died at war. I can only imagine that I would also feel torn between being honored as the parent of a young man or woman with a name, with feelings, with opinions and thoughts of his or her own, that his or her friends and other family members will remember and talk about for years to come, and being honored as a parent of a child brave enough to fight for what they believed, who is remembered because their name is on a plaque along with hundreds of others who served and died. The struggle is deepened, I suppose, because both circumstances are equally honorable. I just thrive on personal interaction, and when I don’t have a connection to an individual I don’t care to the same level as if I had known them.
So with that in mind, I wish to offer my condolences to the families of the many men and women who have died in service to their country, whether it be the United States, or the United Kingdom or one of its many allies. May they rest in peace, and be long remembered by the people and beliefs they died fighting for.
And more-so, I offer thanks to the men and women who fought and lived. Especially to the allied veterans of World War One, and World War Two, but also to those who fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. May you be remembered in life and in death for that which you have given to your country, and to the people and beliefs that you bravely fought for.