I was working tonight in a study room in East Hall with my colleagues from the Youth Media Action Coalition, Josue Pasillas and Lucas Sandtroen, as we were finishing up the final touches of our written manifesto. We were working alongside Tim and Ben, who were finishing up their manifesto to present to the class tomorrow.
In honor of Veterans’ Day, Tim was wearing his US Navy t-shirt, as a humble symbol of his service to our country. The five of us discussed how saddening it is that Pitzer College (as well as the other Claremont Colleges) does not make it a priority to have some form of recognition/respect for the holiday. Considering the substantial number of veterans at the college, including those who have worked directly in the military and others who have family and close friends who have served, it is particularly troubling that the holiday is not a bigger deal here.
Coming from a radically liberal family, my mother taught me to hate war and all things related to it. Growing up in New York following the 9/11 attacks and sub-sequential War on Terror, I was raised to be extremely skeptical to anything related to the military’s occupation in Iraq, and I therefore cringed when I heard mention of Veterans’ Day or other celebrations for those who serve our country. They seemed cliché and phony to me. I realize now that I was being very closed-minded and inconsiderate about what the holiday actually represents.
Veterans’ Day doesn’t celebrate the actual acts of violence and events that occur in war. At least, it shouldn’t. It is to pay respect and thank the courageous men and women who risk their lives to protect this nation. I find it all too often that the decisions of politicians and the US government to go to war and the actual soldiers who are on the ground are tied together as one, and that is incredibly unfair. The people who are actually fighting for our ‘freedom’ (and I hate to use that overly-used word but I will anyways) are not the same people who are making the decisions to go to war. They are simply following the oath that they commit to and are making the ultimate sacrifice so that we can maintain our quality of life.
I am extremely glad and grateful that I had the opportunity to hear Tim’s perspective and learn about his duty. I am choosing to mention this on our blog rather than in class because I don’t want to embarrass Tim (he is extremely humble about his accomplishments), but I think it is very important that we recognize the sacrifices that he, and many other members of our communities have made.
Tim will be making a quick speech this Sunday evening at Pitzer’s Student Senate Open Forum segment (Senate begins at 6:30), addressing Pitzer’s lack of acknowledgement to Veterans’. I look forward to seeing him give this speech and I hope to see you there as well.