03 October 2010

are we here for a reason?

When my school friends here in Philly met me last year, they got the impression that I was something of a patriot. We were in a class discussing an article that critiqued the Korean War Memorial and I, new blonde person from Utah, seemingly out of the blue gave a forceful defense of the monument based on my grandfather's love of the monument as a veteran of that conflict. It was an awkward moment in a conversation amongst the ivory tower bourgeois. As they got to know me, they got to know me as a member of my family-- a military family. From birth, it seems, I have been reared to see the primacy of sacrifice for country. That trip to see the travelling Vietnam Veteran's Memorial come through Tulsa, the POW-MIA sticker on the Jeep, the flagpole dominating our front yard, home, and street-- it's in my cells.

So I got teary over this article about the lady Marines serving with combat units in Afghanistan. Their sacrifice requires them to take extra steps so that they avoid official combat designation. Their sacrifice requires them to do something that isn't acknowledged by their employer- something our country pretends not to practice is their daily reality.  Congress and DoD's continued denial of the sacrifices these women are making as combat troops is an effort to pretend that out-moded traditional gender norms surrounding war are still in place. Pretending that these women, now full protectors of our country, are doing something less is shameful.  Their sacrifice is real, and policy cannot diminish it.

I am proud of these women, and I am proud of the leaders that trust them and train them as Marines, not women, to be so close to the action. Of the official line, I think the sentence that concludes the article is especially poignant: 
"In the end, she said, “They’re going to remember what we did.” 

1 comment:

Bunny said...

What always strikes me is that they are so young! I too am proud of the work that women in theater as service to our country. Lives on the line every day!!!