Originally published on churchofsatan.com for the Reign in Hell: A Memorial Day Tribute to Our Fallen Comrades.
In America, we grow up with our heroes. In other countries, they grow up with dead heroes. In some cases, our heroes created their dead ones, and we celebrate while they mourn.
We ignore the why and focus on our collective patriotic duty, or rather our poor citizens patriotic duty—All the while pretending to care when the media feels emboldened enough to show the public the true cost of war just before we slip back into the drunk social media haze that allows us to forget that we too are surrounded by our dead heroes. Heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice and this strikes at the core of my discord.
I don’t connect with the majority of Americans. I find them wastes of skin and resources who do little more than vote against their self interest, act in direct opposition to their personal and familial safety and feign a sense of patriotism to a country they’d rather defund, than support in any meaningful way. That is, until their welfare, Medicare, Medicaid or social security is required. But even then, their votes and actions deteriorate the very safety net they rely on, weakening the fabric of the country they claim to love.
Why should I celebrate the fallen heroes of a population I hold significant scorn for? Why should I care about our dead heroes in my country, when I don’t care about other countries fallen heroes? Why should I give a damn about others’ sacrifice when I’m alive and feeling fine? I’m a Satanist after all…
I genuinely cannot answer those questions. For whatever reason, be it cultural, social, patriotic or empathy, I can’t help but appreciate the sacrifices of my countrymen and women in defense of my freedoms and in the direct opposition to others ways of life. Being an American is easy when you’re born into it. Mentally rationalizing being American is not.
I was raised by veterans. My great-grandfather, grandfather, father, step-father, scoutmasters, teachers and I’m sure more than that, all served from World War 1 to Vietnam. Some were decorated war heroes and some never saw combat. When it came my turn to serve I did so for college money. Not out of any sense of patriotism or duty. I got in, completed my contract and got out. I had a plan that I held to and I’ve benefited greatly because of the very institution that saw the death of so many just like me. Men and women who had their own plans, but the mad chaos of war stepped in their way and refused to move. And rather than moving themselves, they took the challenge head on and collectively paved the way for our way of life.
What I never expected to find was a sense of connection with my brothers and sisters in arms. I never expected to find a deeper understanding of the rituals and symbols of my country and by extension the sacrifices made in her name. I can’t defend my sense of patriotism, I can’t explain it, but it’s there. Because of my service I stand at attention and salute my countries flag with the full emotional weight of what it means that she still flies. I rarely do so with a dry eye. It’s why I am writing this and not performing it. But I don’t cry out of sadness, but rather, out of a deep, resounding gratitude.
You see, when I think of the safety and stability I could take for granted every day—my ability to so say and print any thought, to believe anything I want without fear for my personal safety, to practice any profession even though I came from poverty and was raised in a middle class household—I’m doing so in the wake of millions of dead soldiers. My identity as a Satanist is safe to announce in public only because it was paid for in blood. Blood from sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers and so on. I am not capable of being so callous, so short sighted, as to be forgetful of past orthodoxies or to think that I am owed any of the liberties I practice daily simply because I exist. You have only to look at the lives of those in other countries to feel the full gravity of it all.
So today I honor those horoes, those soldiers who have fallen in battle. Those who have given what I am unwilling to give, those members of the herd and independent thinking atheists the god worshippers and sinners alike. I honor them all because I am compelled to do so, by my own sense of self. I salute their sacrifice and I swear never to take it for granted. I will not forget what they have given me and I will ensure their memory lives on eternally in my successes, and in my victories.
Thank you my brothers and sisters, you will live on in the brains and sinews of those who walk in your wake.
Hail Our Heroes!