As I scrolled through Facebook on this Veteran’s Day, I saw posts that dealt with hate and anger. I was ready to shut down and do as several of my friends had posted they were doing–take a hiatus from Facebook. Who would have imagined that even after the elections so many emotions would be triggered and vented on social media? As I wondered if I should walk away from the whole mess, I refreshed my page one last time. What I found encouraged me.
One friend had posted a picture of her husband. He’s in desert fatigues complete with helmet and vest. Her comment touched my heart. She indicated that though he was hot, tired, and far from home, in a place where the people didn’t want him, and he might not even had wanted to be there a smile lit his face. This so explained a soldier’s life. They may not like the administration or the orders given them, but they stay and fight.
I think of my uncles, one of whom passed away this summer from cancer most likely started with Agent Orange back in Vietnam. They went places and saw things that I will never be able to imagine. They came home to no thanks, no welcome. They stuffed their experiences and went on living even if they experienced PTSD. They fought their own demons as surely as they fought the Viet Cong.
As I scrolled further down, I saw Massimo Marino‘s post for Veteran’s Day. With his photo, he told a story. To gain the context, the reader needs to be aware that Massimo is from France. This is the story in his words.
My mom was a kid under Nazi occupation in latest years of WWII.
Her little village in Central Italy… A large SS contingent temporarily occupied the scattered houses, robbing people of whatever they could. Prisoner US GIs were guarded nearby at gun point.
While playing with friends using round rocks in lieu of real marbles, one of her throws skidded and hit an SS officer’s boots.
The enraged man turned and aimed his gun at her. Livid, and ready to shoot. His hateful voice, screaming who knows what obscenities in German, froze my mom who paled and began to tremble.
As the SS officer’s hand contracted on the gun, one of the GIs stood up and put himself in the line of fire. The SS knocked him down with the gun and had him taken away.
My mom’s voice trembles when she describes the scene. She believes, and I believe, she was spared because of that unknown hero.
I am in my third year of teaching in a small school. After attending the leadership conference for student councils last weekend, I’ll define small school. Our high school has a total of 69 students in grades 9-12. I love working there. My first year, the ensemble sang the national anthem on 9/11 to start our day. Each year, we have held some ceremony for Veteran’s Day and honored the four out of ten teachers who served in the armed services. Yesterday, I stood with the student body around the flag pole. Two students raised the flags while the nine member ensemble sang the national anthem and God Bless America. Our vice-principal said a few words to honor those who had served, and then we returned to our classes. That little interuption in our regular routine meant a lot to me. I stood and heard the words to the first verse as if for the first time. The happenings of the week and the high emotions that accompanied the election and the days after shed an extra layer of light upon the words.
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home.
I don’t know about you, but I am willing to share kindness and continue to smile even if I don’t like what is happening around me. I’ll be like those soldiers who served or are serving. Let’s not hate social media, but do our part to make it a welcoming place again.