Marissa Explains It All #10 – Guilt Trip Meme-orial Day

I’m autistic. Holidays don’t really hold any significance in my life one way or the other. I don’t like being told to feel something because of a day on a calendar, or embodying an emotion because a day on the calendar says I should.

That said, I have military friends and family, and I can understand the need for memorializing those who performed a specific service for their country, regardless of feelings about said institutions, especially when they were your loved ones.

I do not understand the need to make sure that everyone feels guilty about it.

I have a complicated relationship with this country, to say the least. I’m told by a certain group of people that I don’t belong, that I should be banned, that I should have my rights taken away, but then those same people are aghast if I do not worship their idea of America simply by nature of being there. I don’t understand nationalism or patriotism for the sake of it. I don’t understand this need to remind everyone just how much you love the place you happened to be born. I hate absolutism. The “love it or leave it” bullshit is just an excuse to be self-righteous to anyone who doesn’t think exactly like you.

“Supporting the troops” is similar, and by that I don’t mean actual support for the military. I mean using it as a diversion in an argument to distract from the topic. Derailing a discussion with “what about homeless veterans” is so often said by people who don’t actually care or do anything about homeless veterans. It’s a power play. It’s a guilt trip. It’s designed to shut you down for whatever reason you were talking about or criticizing something. The policies supported and enacted by those who verbally fellate the military until it comes time to actually do anything about veterans suffering only scream of empty gestures designed to win votes and arguments.

I again note this is not maligning the military or those who actively support veterans. Please understand the difference.

This day is particularly egregious. Not for those grieving or remembering their fallen, but for those who share the same meme every year. Some version of it basically goes to share a grieving soldier, crying child with a flag, or some mixture of the two, and more or less “in case you thought today was about BBQs.”

Does anyone in this country actually think that?

It just feels like more guilt and shame thrown out to make sure everyone knows how good of a person you are and how patriotic you claim to be. And to an autistic person who doesn’t really comprehend the whole “this day means you feel this way” thing, it always makes me wonder:

Am I supposed to be sad? Okay, for how long am I supposed to be sad? The whole day? The whole weekend? The entire week?

Am I allowed to go to or have a BBQ? If so, do I have to be sad there? Does it have to be a solemn BBQ? Does going to a BBQ mean that’s what I think the day is about? How long do I have to be sad at the BBQ in order to not seem like I think the day is about that?

What is the line between going to a BBQ and thinking the day is for BBQs?

Isn’t a good way to commemorate freedom and honoring soldiers who fought for it to acknowledge that you have many freedoms, among them the right to have a BBQ with your friends?

But, all too often, it’s not about BBQs, or Memorial Day, or the military. It’s about someone reminding you that they’re a better person than you are because The Troops (TM), and while they have the freedom to do that, I’m not so sure that today is about being smug and self-righteous for the sake of winning an argument either.