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Dan Rackley

Dan Rackley is a US Naval veteran living in Philadelphia and a contributor to "Will They Ever Trust Us Again?"

November 13th, 2010 3:08 PM

Did a 'Thank You' Miss The Mark?

Well, I never really expected my article saying that thanks was good enough to have such a backlash. Seems like some of you that read it got it. Some missed the point entirely. Judging from a good portion of the feedback the article received; some of you think that I should just keep quiet because I never had to worry about my grenades clacking up against my canteen. Or because I never had to look into a man’s eyes and end his life with my bare hands. To the good portion of you that said thank you and left it at that; I say thank you all over again. You people got it. To the rest of you, well, I don’t know what to say. I’d say thank you for your opinions, but I don’t want to be burnt at the stake as a heretic.

One individual stated, I assume, that because I had misgivings about my time in the military that I should go put on a turban and grow a beard. Let me guess, because I don’t have a Dubya tattoo across my chest and my answering machine message doesn’t say “I Love War” that myself and people like me should run and join the Taliban. I know I didn’t join a social club, but at least when you join a social club they tell you what they are having a bake sale for. There’s a lot more accountability in the money raised at a church cake walk than there was for anything that happened in Iraq. So to those that attributed my behavior to someone who's no different than Bin Laden or the people we are supposed to be going after; score one on the wrong column in your favor. The people you are comparing people and people like me to would have chopped all our hands off the second we typed the words “I feel.”

And what constitutes real combat to begin with anyway? Just because I wasn’t sleeping in a foxhole next to other guys sleeping in foxholes apparently doesn’t give me the right to say that what I thought was going on was wrong. Some actually bothered to say that after serving three years on the Bataan that I had no idea of the history of Bataan in history. It’s not my job to tell you every minor detail of my years in the Navy, nor is it my responsibility. All I was trying to do with the article in the first place was to tell people that no matter what, no matter where, just say thank you. By the way, there are several excellent reference materials on the Bataan Death March that you can find at your local bookstore or library. Whose right is it to say that what I went through is better or worse than what anyone else went through. Every military member’s experience is so individualized that not one can be compared with the other. Not even to the point of who suffered worse. I couldn’t begin to imagine what a Vietnam Vet was thinking, and I wouldn’t have the right to. All I can say is what I felt.

Now to the involvement in this article of Michael Moore. One person even said that I should be ashamed of myself for pimping Michael Moore’s book. It’s not pimping if you are proud of it. To the folks that said that I was a loon for writing anything to Michael Moore as he would merely twist my words around; not once has he changed anything, even the obvious spelling mistakes. Especially the part that says anyone that gives him any grief over what he is doing should “go to hell”. I’m especially proud of that. All he did was give me a platform to voice my opinion.

A lot of people have been saying that the second you raise your right hand at the processing station, you lose the right to complain, or opine over, or generally express the feelings you have regarding anything related to your military experience. Wrong, horribly wrong. Nobody says a single thing about someone that works at a McDonalds’s complaining about their day on Facebook. If anything, it gives us more of a right because we’ve paid a higher entry fee into the discussion than anyone else. Some of us had to pay a hell of a lot higher than the minimum entry fee than some of our brothers, but we all paid more than the minimum. So unless you want to have your own soapbox chopped up and thrown into the fireplace, leave someone else’s opinions as someone else’s opinions instead of telling people that just because they weren’t next to you in the foxhole that they need to be publicly horsewhipped.

No, I have never actually seen someone arguing about the size of their respective flags. Anyone who thought that needs to seriously reconsider their own thought process. That whole statement was to expound on the fact that some people think that just because there isn’t a free steak that comes along with the thank you that it isn’t considered a thank you. To me, saying thank you is good enough. A lot of people missed the whole point entirely and argued points that didn’t exist. To the people that said thank you and left it at that instead of turning the discussion into an episode of Meet The Press, I’m not the only one that means a lot to.

And by the way, I’m a disabled vet that has to deal with constant pain, nightmares and memory loss. Oh wait, I forgot. I’m not supposed to complain about anything, even after having to help pull a marine out of the water that committed suicide by jumping over the side.

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