It's Memorial Day.
I found myself in front of the mantel at about 5am, coffee in hand, and in truth a little bit glazed over as I stared at the long row of medals I never actually wore, uniform requirements being what they are. It's nice to have a focal point when The Mood descends. Not quite a pile of sand and a rake, not quite a stress ball, much nicer than either to have up above the fireplace.
It's Memorial Day, and I can't really bring myself to look at most of the Internet per my usual morning news/commentary routine. The shrill, ignorant commentary of people who have never served anything beyond their immediate needs or desires is just too much to deal with.
Let me tell you what I am going to do instead of posture and flail and patch holes in my ego with the ever-malleable putty of scorn and uninformed self-righteous judgment:
I am going to go burn some ostentatiously large pieces of premium beef, and scorch the foil wrapped around these huge Idaho potatoes, and right towards the end there, I am going to throw these baby asparagus stalks on the grill, too. Then, with the Mrs. and the neighbors and inshallah a decent American rye, I am going to sit down and gorge myself, right out there in the immaculately landscaped and colorfully planted back yard.
I am going to play the carefully choreographed part of a typical specimen of Americus Suburbius, and I will be thankful that we finally live in a neighborhood where I don't have to worry about stray bullets, or having our grill stolen and sold for scrap, or having my car keyed because someone thinks I don't belong on this block.
I am going to celebrate the incredible things that Americans are capable of accomplishing when they think things bigger than themselves are at stake. I'm going to celebrate the lives and times of the men and women who line the shores and cemetaries of places where today they would be spit on. I'm going to celebrate the friends that came home with me, and especially the ones who didn't.
This is not a holiday for cynics and angst-mongers. They have their place, but they are not invited today. This is not a day to be slobbering into a schooner at a smoky veterans' club. No, not today, but that too has its own time.
This is a holiday to carve out a piece of pseudonormalcy and the American Dream in the same fashion that the ocean carved out the coastline - years of opposition, years of struggle, years of unfathomable effort to reach a goal defined only by its contemporaneity with the observer.
I was a lion once, trained not to weep. And for that matter, trained not to laugh. Trained to take everything in stride, to manage expectations as a substitute for managing disappointment, to accept the consequences of each action and to see those consequences only as variables in the huge equation for which each operation was one step closer to solving for X, the mission, resolution to the problem at hand.
I'm allowed to have holidays, now. I can have them in my own home, on my own time.
It's time to celebrate.