I watched “Restrepo” on Sunday night. It’s a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley (arguably one of the most dangerous places to be as a US soldier).
I was nervous. My cousin was in Afghanistan when he was in the Army. I wasn’t sure I wanted any insight into what his life was like while there. I was scared.
But I watched the whole thing and it was really good. I’m thankful I watched it because it really was insightful. But it was also one I don’t ever care to see again. It’s real. When a soldier is shown laying on the ground after being shot dead in gun fire, it’s not an actor. It’s a real person. Who is dead.
The movie made me think a lot about war and this country I live in. And I’m thankful for those soldiers trying to keep the United States safe. I believe that’s the point – to keep people safe. I think. (I struggle with this too, since so many innocent people in Afghanistan aren’t safe because of the US invading their land.)
And while I’m completely unsure of where I stand on war, I do know that there are people risking their LIVES every day “for the country.” Honestly, I don’t understand why.
It makes me think of the Pledge of Allegiance that I recited each day in elementary school while saluting the flag.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Why should I pledge my allegiance like this? I don’t know why I’m supposed to be loyal to the country I live in. Is it supposed to be more special than any other country? Am I supposed to feel some bond or connection to this nation?
Because I don’t.
And it confuses me.
I don’t know why people chant “U! S! A!” or why we sing the National Anthem before football games. I don’t understand it one bit.
I can’t figure out what I’m missing. Why am I not as patriotic as the other 65,000 people chanting at the football stadium? Is it generational? Or is it just me?
I connect with the people of my nation. I love the people. But I connect with and love people of all nations. So I don’t feel that’s where the disconnect is.
My husband and I discussed this over dinner last night. (While I was drinking my way too big mango margarita, so the words were flowing a bit more than usual.) The discussion didn’t help. It just made me question even more this patriotic allegiance that I’m supposed to have, that I don’t.
I am grateful to live in a country where I can share these thoughts, believe and worship how I desire, have rights as a woman, etc. But this country’s got crap too, just like Afghanistan and Libya. We have an ego so big that we think it’s our duty to intervene in the crap of other countries without their request or approval. How does that make the US any different from Afghanistan? Because we’re “right” and they’re “wrong?” I’m sure they feel the same way.
I’m not sure that I’ll come to a conclusion about any of this. What I do hope is that the dialogue I’m hopefully starting with my cousin and another friend will give me some insight into their choice to enlist in the military and a certain peace with my thoughts.
Maybe this will spark dialogue between you and me too. I’m game.