While noting the contributions of injured servicemen has become a staple of State of the Union addresses, the way Cory Remsburg was treated struck a bad chord with me. I couldn’t quite find the appropriate words to describe why it didn’t sit well, but, thankfully, Melissa McEwen does so pitch-perfectly:
…I’m not sure I see Remsburg symbolizing the same things the President does.
When invited to look at him as a symbol, I didn’t see a man who reminds me that “the American Dream” isn’t easy. What I saw is a man who, like so many other men and women, offered their service, and potentially their lives, to protect their country, but was instead sent to a war of choice. Ten times. What I see is a man who has a struggle he didn’t have before, because of corporate interests masquerading as national security, because of lies, because powerful people who tell pretty patriotic stories about “the American Dream” [to] convince brave (and/or desperate) young men and women to go fight wars that make those powerful people very, very rich.
That doesn’t take anything away from Remsburg’s courage and loyalty and service. Ten fucking deployments. That guy is hard as nails.
He went to his job, and he worked hard, and he gave everything short of his life to his work. And his employer, the US government, worked him right through until they couldn’t work him anymore. And that story seems less symbolic of how nothing comes easy, as much as it does indicative of how brutally hard it is for US workers, while it’s so very easy for the people who make decisions about their lives.
We will fight fewer wars when we stop turning servicemen into symbols, and start seeing them as people.