Memorializing Memorial Day

A Post By: Michael Gallo

Tomorrow is one of the most important days in the history of the United States of America (it’s even  ahead of Domesticated Feline House Pet Appreciation Day, August 16). Tomorrow we remember those who gave their lives to protect this great nation. These soldiers are our grandparents, our fathers, our mothers, our friends, our siblings, our teachers, and sometimes, let’s be honest, that kid who got an 11 on his ACT in high school.

These people are the true heroes. People who are willing to sacrifice everything. Very few individuals sign up for an occupation knowing full well they may not walk away from it. Exceptions are: oil well workers, miners (especially of the Chilean variety), police officers, fire fighters, toilet cleaners at Indian restaurants, and rodeo clowns at illegally run backyard rodeos.

America, it would seem, has a very skewed sense of who a hero is. America would like you to believe certain athletes are heroes. They give these sports stars high salaries and send them out to do such daring things as catch a ball. If you’re lucky, then maybe your local team will set up an exciting bounty program that will result in the permanent injury of other “sport heroes”. Merril Hoge, a former NFL player and current ESPN analyst, is so jacked in the head from all the concussions he suffered that he has to carry a card in his wallet with his home address and the names of all his children. Was that worth what he got paid? The viewing public would, despite their artificial arguments, say “yes”.

Athletes obviously aren’t heroes. They’re entertainers. But even with this important distinction, America still has a skewed view of who a hero is. And why is that, you ask? Because we ALSO treat movie stars like heroes. When I think of unlimited self sacrifice, I think of Lindsay Lohan. When I read enticing CNN headlines about Lindsay Lohan suffering “exhaustion” I find myself restless, unable to sleep. Everyday activities seem meaningless. It’s hard to focus when you know somewhere out there, Lindsay Lohan is just beat. Because despite the fact we have thousands of men and women inhaling sand in Afghanistan during all hours of the day and night, it makes sense to glorify Lindsay Lohan in such spectacular film roles as April Booth in the hit film “Machete”. Remember that one? Probably not.

So that’s really the purpose of this article. To remind you to stay grounded and to remember the true meaning of Memorial day. The freedom you and I enjoy today is because of the millions of men and women who have been fighting for it since we robbed the British of this great land.

Just last week I found myself filming something that caused me to think a very cliche thought. I did not go to four years of college for this shit, I thought to myself as I filmed people walking in and out of a door for 25 minutes. But, as I often do in situations like that, I thought immediately of my grandfather. My grandfather was a bombardier on a B-17 during WWII. That’s Dubya Dubya Two to some of you. After his plane got hit, he gathered a few of his things said a prayer and bailed through the nose of the plane, a 23 year old Jew jumping into Nazi-occupied Romania. That takes balls. Sometimes I bitch about where I live. My grandfather, at the age of 23 got to spend 7 months in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. I can’t imagine they had very good accommodations. And so I bitched to no one. Because no matter how shitty life gets, no matter how bad the economy is, chances are when your grandfather was my age he said, “fuck Nazis”, signed up and went over to Europe to shoot as many as he could. And that is a lot more hardcore and a lot more terrifying than anything I will probably ever do.

A lot of us have grown soft. A lot of us are willing to complain about stupid things, and a lot of us are willing to glorify all the wrong people. So this weekend, when you eat a hot dog, and then subsequently barf it up after 3 Louisville Chuggers, think of the real heroes. Think of the men and women who fought to protect our fucking freedom.

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