Paying tribute where one feels it is due, and strictly on a voluntary basis, sometimes can hold deep meaning to someone. While I understand that some folks have their reasons for which they do not wish to pay tribute to the dead, or to soldiers who died in an unpopular war, or out of grudge against another, etc.; to whatever extent that there have been people who have died for freedom, I still feel it a worthy cause in which to reflect and respect those who died in any attempt to see humanity freed – in body or otherwise. How many people in history have been separated from their head at the hands of their oppressors for not disavowing their faith, or for not avowing a faith they didn’t honestly believe? How many people in mankind’s history have died attempting to escape slavery or help others escape that immoral trade? How many militia have died just defending their homes from violent oppressive invaders? Regardless of whether done by a soldier, mother, good Samaritan, or anybody else; it is true that human lives have been lost on some level or another to achieve whatever it is we know of life and freedom now. Those who gave all, I still think deserve some kind of recognition – at least from me, and my grateful side.
So, if one be so inclined; how do you know in what way to pay tribute? The answers could be as various as however many ask the question, but I would like to offer one perspective which seems fitting to me.
Although the military is certainly a place in which one might be likely to hear more conversations than usual about how to pay tribute to those who died for a worthy cause, it has no monopoly on those deserving of recognition for their sacrifice in the cause of freedom. I may tend to refer to these types of experiences a little more just because of my personal frame of reference. With that said, to whatever extent whoever it may have been on whose shoulders the current posterity stands, they brought us to this time in the here and now; and as brilliant or as bungling as our predecessors may have been, we are alive because of them. To whatever freedom we have found or not, they surely helped us to get here. Some may have contributed more than others, and some have surely made themselves opponents of the advancement of humanity. For whatever one ultimately defines as worthy of memorial of some past person’s contribution, carrying on with whatever was inspirational about it can be a great way to pay tribute. Everyone’s individual perspective and answer may be different in how to carry this out as well, but there’s one answer I like for paying tribute to the greatest gifts I know – life and liberty.
While I don’t want to diminish the pain, mourning, and dark time that it can be when remembering life, love, and liberty lost; I do want to make a plea to those who have found it unhealthy to hold on too tight and for too long. As someone who has lost, including in war, it has come to my attention in recovery from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that we can sometimes convince ourselves that we have to hold on when in all reality it may be better for both our own health and whatever it is that we sincerely want to memorialize that we indeed just need to let go. We are under no obligation to wear fear, guilt, hatred, anger, depression, or any other baggage for anybody else – or even for ourselves for that matter. Allowing one’s own life to devolve into despair and defeat is not actually a positive way with which to cope or memorialize those who sacrificed to contribute to something better. If we truly want to memorialize past sacrifices, lifting the torch of whatever was inspirational and reaching for that something better (whatever it may have been) is truly paying homage to that memory. It is baring this in mind that I share what I consider the greatest tribute (just for me and not necessarily anybody else).
To those who came before and gave me life, I pay tribute by living my life. To those who sacrificed in the struggle for human freedom, I pay tribute by living my life as a free being. To those who have dedicated their lives up to and including the shortened end of it to the most basic human principals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; it is my intention to make the most out of the gift of life while I still have it, to live as free as an individual can possibly live, and to pursue whatever I have left of this beautiful gift called life with a love and lust as only a free mind can. By letting go of all the baggage that weighs us down when we feel like we are somehow obligated to carry sadness and heaviness and instead moving on with life and focusing on living it, it can actually be a better testimony to our love and appreciation for those who have sacrificed to get us wherever we may be today. To live, to laugh, to love, to move forward, and to stand up for yourself and demand the universe recognize your right to live as free as any other creature of nature – that, to me, is the greatest tribute. To those gone who have invested in me, and to those who don’t even know how they inspired me; laying down the baggage of constant mourning and laments is not meant to ignore or forget – it is rather meant to honor and continue the struggles you so bravely weathered which are worthy.
If I lay here and mourn myself to death, I have wasted the chance I’ve been given to make progress by the very ones I mourn. If I continue forward, their memories are carried with me into the invigorating beams of newfound life. And, should they be able to see me blazing my own trail with the inspiration they’ve given me, surely they would be pleased to see me living life to the fullest as opposed to lying in their grave next to them in despair and waiting to die. For all those who have sacrificed in the struggle to defend innocent life, secure the blessings of liberty, and for all the intentions of securing peace and prosperity for humanity – it seems to me that I don’t owe my death as much as I owe a life lived to the fullest. And that is what I will do in honor of those who have died for freedom.
While on the subject, I want to offer one thing just for the record. I know that many veterans like me sometimes are thanked for our service when someone learns of our military background. Only speaking for myself here, but while it is not necessary, I would like to tell you what you can do if you truly want to thank me for whatever I may or may not have accomplished in my little role in this universe. And that is that you enjoy your life to the fullest and get as much of whatever it is you want out of this ride while you can. Seeing people reaching to get the most out of their own life and enjoying the freedom to do so is worth more than anything else I can imagine in way of thanks to anyone who has sought to be of service to humanity. I’ve been thanked enough, and am happy to never hear it spoken to me again – preferring to see people still allowing themselves to be engaged with a human spark. Students learning new concepts, athletes shattering new records, scientists discovering new fields of study, ambitious young entrepreneurs making innovative inroads into economic prosperity, artists creating new masterpieces, old passions and new love. Here’s to embracing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – what this individual feels to be the greatest tribute to those who have died for freedom.
A.G. “Brick” House is an Afghanistan war veteran and former licensed minister (UPCI), who has become an outspoken skeptic, peace advocate, and involved himself in many other issues which he believes affect the individual freedoms of the people whose constitutional rights he took an oath to defend. He currently resides in the heart of Tennessee with his companion dog ‘Liberty,’ where he is recovering from PTSD, enjoys the therapeutic hobbies of gardening, creative writing https://chaossection.com/, playing drums in the metal band Outlaw Serenade http://www.outlawserenade.com/, and other forms of artistic expression \m/