By Camillo Mac Bica, Truthout
I do not want to appear disrespectful or ungrateful, but should we meet on the street one day, do say "Hello," or "Fine day" or other such nicety, but please do not thank me for "my service" as a United States Marine. I make this request because my service, as you refer to it, was basically, either to train to become a killer or to actually kill people and blow shit up.
So, in the future, if you really insist on thanking me for something, do not thank me for the eight years I spent as a Marine, but for the 45 or so years following my discharge from the military that I have spent as an activist fighting for human rights and social justice and to end the insanity of war. Frankly, however, I would prefer that you just say hello, or fine day or other such nicety. You see, my activism all these years warrants no praise or merit, as it is not something I choose to do. Rather, I do it because I must, perhaps as penance for my culpability for the sacrilege of war. And if you truly want to demonstrate your good character, patriotism, and support for the troops and veterans, rather than merely mouth meaningless expressions of gratitude for something you don't truly understand or care much about, do something meaningful and real. Do what is truly in the interest of this nation and of those victimized by war.
Make some demands.
Demand, for example, an immediate end to the corporate takeover of our "democracy" and to the undue influence of the military-industrial-Congressional complex. Demand sanity in Pentagon spending and a reallocation of finite resources to people-focused programs such as health care, education and jobs rather than to killing and destruction. Demand an immediate end to wars for corporate profit, greed, power and hegemony. Demand that we adhere to the Constitution and to international law. Demand accountability for those who make war easily and care more for wealth, profit and power than for national interest or for the welfare of their fellow human beings. And finally, demand the troops be brought home now, and that they be adequately treated and cared for when they return. So, should we meet on the street one day, do say Hello, or Fine day, and as you talk to me about your efforts to make this country and the world a better and more peaceful place in which to live, I would be happy to thank you for your service.
Don't thank me either. Thankfully I never had to go to war and I didn't join the service for anybody but myself anyway. I was a dumb kid like everybody else. It worked out all right and I'm proud of my service but that's my business. So far I have been able to avoid telling people who thank me to go fuck themselves and where were they when my brothers in arms were being reviled for doing their duty in a war that was less despicable than Bush's Oil War. It's a struggle sometimes.
I guess I'm looking for a courteous way to say "Keep yer goddam thanks to yourself. You don't know jack shit."
I'll keep looking.