From the dawn of time, men who died in battle have been recognized as heroes by the society they fought for.
America has set aside this coming weekend to honor the men and women who have given their lives to found our country, to fight to preserve its way of life, and to bring democracy to other countries.
For most of us this coming weekend means barbecues, a four-day weekend and the traditional start of summer. Retailers have used this weekend as a reason for people to spend money on a new barbecue, redo the landscaping in a backyard, and to buy new summer outfits.
I will be going away this weekend for four days, during which I will be disconnected from the Internet, my cell phone, and the stresses of regular society. I’m going to the mountains of Malibu to celebrate the weekend with 300 other men. There will be workshops teaching people how to tie-dye and seminars on how to engage my aura.
This weekend in the mountains is about getting back in touch with what it means to be a man in a society that has conflicting messages for men. On the one hand men are expected to be strong, silent, powerful, forceful, and determined in their goal seeking. The strong man goes after what he wants. He is aggressive in business and he is sexually assertive. We look to the mythic to set the standard for the average. We use the warrior ethic as the ideal of what a man should be.
On the other hand, we hamstring men when we tear down the most successful among us. We look for the sexual indiscretions and financial improprieties so we can bring the top man down off his pedestal, and so that we, who don’t measure up, may feel a sense of moral superiority.
But for me, my weekend in the mountains is not about hierarchies, whether they are financial, educational, social, or military. This weekend is about being one of many. When 300 men gather and they are all volunteers, it is an interesting experience to witness how much they can do and how little friction there really is.
I was never in the military, so I have no standard by which to measure how this unorganized group of men compares with a strict hierarchy of the military. I do know that I find the camaraderie and the friendships made to be highly satisfying.
I imagine that for those who were in the military and have felt the pressures of combat, their sense of camaraderie must be so much stronger, their friendships deeper, and their love for one another greater. Which means that their feelings of loss must be greater also.
This coming weekend as Woodlawn Cemetery holds ceremonies to remember those lost in combat, veterans and families will gather to honor and remember their fallen fellows.
That is the real point of this weekend. This weekend is about remembering what it took to found our nation, and what it takes to protect our nation, but also about the individuals who sacrificed their lives for those of us still living.
So this coming weekend as we enjoy our hamburgers and corn on the cob, as we lay on the beach and work on our tans, I urge you to take a moment and reflect on those who have sacrificed for us.
If you are an active duty service member, or you are a vet, I want to thank you for the work you’ve done, and let you know that I am sorry for the loss of your fellows. Whether you are or were a general or a buck private, whether you saw front-line combat or stayed on a base in Kansas, the role you played was needed and appreciated.
To all the service members let me just say thank you, you are not forgotten.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.