This Isn't What I Fought For
"This isn't what I fought for. This isn't what I buried friends for."
That's what I said last night, while I watched my the election results come in. I have no outlet, because the answer I get is "well sure you did. You fought for the right for people to vote the way they want." So, I turn here to say: I didn't. By all that is right and holy, I didn't.
I joined our Navy, and then our Army, to defend Freedom. Freedom for people to marry whoever they wanted. Freedom for people to discover who God made them to be, free from the judgment of others, or the social constructs of sex and gender. Freedom for a female president. Freedom for every last one of my sisters and brothers — regardless of gender, race, faith, lifestyle, you name it — to live without fear for their future. Freedom for sexual assault victims to receive the justice they deserve. Freedom for women to exercise autonomy over their bodies. Freedom for us all to strive for a day when we are all that one step closer to realizing the Kingdom of Heaven here in our nation.
There are so many freedoms I fought for. I can't even think of or articulate them all. I fought for Mexicans, for Muslims, for the differently abled, for the LGBTQ+, for every last woman in this country. I didn't fight for what my country said last night they wanted. I fought for the right for people to set aside their differences and work toward the greater good, for America, which is a beautiful, multicultural, pluralistic nation.
I have nowhere safe where I can scream my anger. I have given everything for the people of this country. My whole family has. What brings me most to tears is the story of my father, who gave so much for this country in Vietnam that he was never the same. Until he was unrecognizable. Until he passed down his scars to me, before I, too, took up the uniform.
I was raped in the Navy and never received justice for it. But, I was finally okay with it. I fished children's bodies out of the South Pacific alongside my fellow sailors. But, I've made peace with that. I've listened to the horror stories of my fellow service members — men and women — and let their tears soak my uniform shoulder. But, I've been honored by that. I've buried friends I never got to say "goodbye" to. But, I've moved on. I've stood on Stalin's Georgian killing grounds and struggled with the moral wounding of leaving that country to Russia (back in 2008). But, I've told myself, we all follow orders we don't like.
Today, I wonder what any of that was for. I'm left feeling as if I've been broken, as if I've watched others be broken, as if my father's breaking ... was for absolutely nothing. I've sacrificed so much, for nothing.
I see already on Facebook, people trying to be "optimistic," trying to say that "we've got to unite," that "it'll be okay, because of *insert reason here.*" I notice that these statements are not made by any of my fellow veterans or service members ... or by anyone else who isn't middle-class and white. I'm silenced, quickly and I know that others will be, too.
I shuffle to the bathroom to look at my array of VA-prescribed medications and I clamp my hands over my mouth, to keep from screaming while I cry.
America, you've betrayed me.