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Memorial Day, My Grandfather and Questioning WHY

Monday, May 28, 2012

It was March of 1989.  My grandfather was in the hospital, dying of cancer.

I was sixteen years old–and mad at world.

Mad at what?

Mad at everything.  I was mad at my parents for making up what I thought were ridiculous rules.  I was mad at our government for making what I believed were bad choices.  I was mad at fast food restaurants for using factory-farmed animals.  I was mad at my high school girlfriend for talking to another guy in the hallway.  I was mad at my kid sister for being the youngest and knowing how to win my parents over when I couldn’t.

I was mad.

And I showed it by dressing in black clothes.  From head to toe.

And I wore a peace symbol pendant around my neck.

I was anti-establishment.  I was anti-everything.

(Including myself.)

I remember going to visit my grandfather shortly before he passed away.

Standing in the hospital room beside him, I suddenly became very aware of my anti-establishment, anti-govenrnment, anti-everything attitude with attire to match.  My grandfather–a World War II veteran–had fought to defend this country that I was, essentially, turning my nose up and snubbing.  He was a proud patriot and I was known for talking about running away to live in a different country.

I remember shifting uncomfortably.  Maneuvering my feet to hide anti-everything slogans I’d written all over my canvas hi-top shoes.  I remember trying to look more “respectable” and less “rebellious” at that moment.

I don’t remember how the conversation started that afternoon, but we got to talking about our country and the armed forces.

And I remember him saying, “I fought so that you would have the freedom to disagree.  I fought so that you would have the right to question WHY.  Never stop asking WHY.”

And I’m proud to say I never have stopped asking.

See, I may not always agree with everything.

I may want to protest.

I may speak my mind when I’m asked. (Ok, sometimes even when I haven’t been asked.)

But I have so much respect for those men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.

Because of them, I have the right to disagree. To protest.

And most importantly, to question WHY.

A giant MAHALO, thank you, to our soldiers for serving.

2 Responses to “Memorial Day, My Grandfather and Questioning WHY”

  1. Liko says:

    Mahalo for sharing this story about you and your grandfather.

    “I fought so that you would have the freedom to disagree. I fought so that you would have the right to question WHY. Never stop asking WHY.”

    The freedom to disagree is something we should not take for granted–ever.

    Much aloha,

  2. Jason Poole says:

    Mahalo for that, Liko! Mahalo for that.
    I try to remember/retell myself this story when I get frustrated.
    We have the right. Right on.
    Ke aloha nō