My brother posts this picture of my grandpa every year around Memorial Day.
The baby he is holding is my father whom he saw for the first time while he was home from deployment. Both of them are also named Karl, but I am not the third because I have a middle name, Joseph, after my other grandpa.
My grandpa is a good reminder why I love and respect members of the military and this country but still despise violence and war vehemently.
I tried many times to talk to my grandpa about his service in the military and I even tried to procure his uniforms after his death, only to discover that he had given them away long ago.
I have a deep connection with my grandpa that I cannot adequately describe. I learned lessons from my father, some things I should do and some things I shouldn’t do. But, it’s different with my grandpa. Sometimes I feel like he’s right next to me. In his gentle way, I think he is guiding me.
He helps complete the picture for the message that violence never solved anything. It’s never the ultimate answer. It may accomplish some things short-term, but it leaves destruction in its wake and and dooms survivors to a lifetime of struggle.
PTSD, unresolved trauma, and other forms of destruction are the natural by-products of violence and war. While people clamor for second amendment rights, families try to piece together their lives as politicians make excuses.
As we honor veterans like my grandpa and my uncle and people that have served like my brother, we also remember the residual pain and suffering left in the wake of the endless stream of wars and now the long list of school shootings.
Maybe it’s time to sacrifice a small “right” like owning a weapon, to save the lives of children in the near future. We can’t let fear get the better of us or we will just keep eliminating other human beings that we disagree with.
I know the guns don’t kill people, but radicalized people with guns do. And more often than not, in the history of our country, we have been the ones that squeezed the trigger most often. It’s Americans that are killing our school children, not the “commies” or ISIS or the Chinese.
I can only guess, but I think my veteran grandfather would stand with me and say that it’s time for the violence to stop. Let’s do whatever is necessary, even if it means we lose a few friends for taking a stand. Maybe our long-standing positions were really someone else’s soapbox anyway, and not what we really want deep down.
We can be a good American and also stand up to the violence that some even condone within religion.
It’s time! Be the change! I believe in you!