Today I visited the San Francisco National Cemetery on the decommissioned military base known as the Presidio. Over 30,000 men and women are buried there, and today each grave was marked with a tiny American flag. Tomorrow, millions of these flags from across the country will be put into storage for use another year until they are too faded to befit Memorial Day tribute.
When I'm gone I doubt I'll get buried alongside anyone else in the military. Although military burial benefit eligibility requirements are surprisingly liberal, I am sure there is some open-ended rule about rejecting people like me. I believe the military term is "shitbag". I would wager that the National Cemetery system probably has a no-shitbag policy.
You see, the label shitbag also has a liberal definition. I was one because I spoke out publicly against the war, because I'm gay, because I was sent to prison for speaking out, because people in the military do not have 1st Amendment rights, because we are supposedly dying in Iraq so you can have those rights, because as a civilian I continue to speak out against the war.
Some may assume that because I am antiwar, that I live in San Francisco, that I did not exactly have the best experiences in the Marines, that I would not spend today mourning the sacrifices of our fallen troops. But for all the crap I had to put up with, for the terror, for the hypocrisy, for the pain, I just don't care. Every day in this war is another mistake, every death is another tragedy.
Someone else can have my tiny American flag.
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