November 11: Why We Shouldn’t Remember…

November 11. We all know what today symbolizes. It’s been drilled into us since we were kids. Why do we remember today? “At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”. World War I ended. But why do we only remember today? Why don’t we remember every day? And not just World War I, but any and all wars in which those who sacrificed EVERYTHING to fight for our freedom, either died or walked away a different and scarred person. Or for those who are still fighting.

remembrance day

Now don’t get me wrong – of course I understand why November 11 is so important. I understand why it’s so important to have a moment of silence at 11 am on November 11. I have yet to attend a Remembrance Day celebration in which I don’t tear up. I have not been a witness to war, thank God. But I do know how lucky I am. How lucky my family is. We are able to live the lives we have, enjoy the FREEDOM we have, thanks to veterans who fought for us.

My point is, we shouldn’t just remember today, on November 11. We should remember EVERY DAY. Every day you see a veteran, thank them. Hug them if you want. But at the very least give them a handshake. They made the ultimate sacrifice. For YOU. A complete stranger.

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My heart is filled with so much love, respect and gratitude for the men and women who have fought or are still fighting for us. I hate war. I wish we could all just get along. But that’s obviously wishful thinking. I can and will continue to pray for and wish for world peace. And when that happens, I will still always thank and respect our veterans. Those who passed away while serving, or from old age. Those who came home, not the same person that left.

Imagine what soldiers who serve in active duty see. We all know what PTSD means. It affects people because of various different traumas, but veterans, in my opinion, have it the worst. Having to shoot someone, seeing children die right before your eyes, seeing women and children raped and murdered, seeing your friend die from the enemy’s bullets. This doesn’t just go away when these soldiers come home. It stays with them. Forever. Every time they close their eyes, they’re brought back to the hell they witnessed.

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This is why we need to remember EVERYDAY. This is why we need to show love and respect to our veterans EVERYDAY. Not just on November 11. While we’re enjoying our freedom, they’re still suffering. They made the ultimate sacrifice, for us. Not only did they risk their lives (too many lost their lives) but they risked their mental health. And more than not suffer from PTSD. We need to take care of our veterans. Without them and their sacrifice, you wouldn’t be who you are today. The world would be a much different, scarier place. Thank a veteran today, tomorrow, every day you see one. If you know one, make sure they know that you are there for them. Take care of them. They are suffering and probably hiding it well. Don’t let them feel like they’re alone.

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I don’t know any other band that is so supportive of veterans than Five Finger Death Punch. Even if you’re not a fan of the band, I encourage you to watch the two music videos below. They are emotional. I can’t get through either of them without crying. And I’ve watched them a million times. This band shows more love and respect for veterans and it is simply beautiful. They employ veterans in their crew. At every concert, EVERY concert, they recognize the veterans that are in the crowd. They dedicate so much to them.

Wrong Side of Heaven – Five Finger Death Punch

Remember Everything – Five Finger Death Punch

This morning I dropped my oldest daughter off at Sea Cadets so she can attend a Remembrance Day celebration with her fellow cadets.  We listened to these songs on the drive. She teared up. She knows why she’s standing tall and proud this morning. She knows what today is about. She knows the sacrifice veterans have made for us. For her. Educate your children if you haven’t already. And remember – to ALWAYS remember the sacrifice made for you.

ciara remembrance day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.   Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

 

 

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Why I cry at concerts…yeah, I’m THAT person

Music saved my life. On more than one occasion. I know how ridiculous that may sound to some people, but it’s true. I’ll be dedicating a different blog post to how one band/musician especially saved my life. This blog is about concerts and why I have cried at some, and once, almost peed my pants a little. (TMI?? Sorry)

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I don’t like music or musicians because they’re on the top 20 list and everyone else likes them. In fact, most (not all) of the musicians I love are bands that haven’t been heard of by the local radio stations (and most of my friends), some are bands that scare my mom (sorry mom) and some are bands that are no longer together but their music lives on. So what makes me a fan of these bands?

bif naked
Bif Naked Photo: Joy Zylstra

It’s because of who they are. What they’ve been through. What their songs mean to them, and how I interpret them. How their songs make me feel. I don’t listen to music just for the beat or because it’s a good song. I listen to music because of what it brings up inside me. Sometimes, these songs bring back memories and feelings (both sad and happy) from my past.

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The musicians that I love the most, are people who have suffered. Survived. Been hurt. They sing about this pain that they felt or still feel, and I relate instantly. My childhood was stolen from me when I lit the lighter that caused the explosion when I was nine years old. I have little to no memory of my life before my accident. After my accident, my life was far from normal and even further from easy or happy. I was a very angry teenager. I felt judged, like a freak, a loner, and so alone.

Music was my escape. Escape from life. Escape from pain. Escape from feeling alone. What I found in music, I was unable to find anywhere else. The lyrics spoke to me. The agony in the musicians voice as he/she sang their songs touched my heart and soul. I felt like these musicians understood me. Knew what I was feeling. Understood the feeling of being alone, scared and hurting. They understood the feeling of being judged and an outcast. They understood me, when I felt like no one else did.

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These musicians become more than a part of my CD collection (yes, I still buy CD’s and I always will). They become part of my heart. They give me the escape I need in life, still today. They get me, even though we’ve never met. I feel like I owe these musicians so much – I have so much gratitude in my heart for these musicians who have written songs that have saved my life. Because of the songs they write, because of the experiences they have gone through, or simply because they understand what life is like as an outcast – I no longer feel like I can’t get through life. There was a time when I was a teenager that I felt life was too hard. I tried to end my life three times. But then, I turned to my music. My bands.  They got me. They understood me. They saved me. I haven’t thought about suicide or anything even close to that in over 15 years. Thanks to music.

music saved my life

Because of how much music affects me so deeply in my life, getting the opportunity to see these bands live in concert is a feeling that I don’t know how to fully describe. I’m not obsessed with these bands. I don’t have their posters all over my room (although I did when I was teen). I don’t stalk them (although I’m certain I was a groupie in a past life). But I am a fan through and through. I just feel like I owe them so much. As mentioned, I am forever grateful for them giving me an escape and saving me. So when I see these musicians in person, my emotions, all my emotions, come rushing forward in the form of tears. The pain I’ve felt, the feeling of not being alone anymore, the understanding I feel from their music, the love I feel for these musicians and from these musicians. It all comes rushing up and I can’t help it. I cry. Tears of gratitude and happiness. Concerts are my happy place – and when I can see one of my favorite bands in concert, I am on cloud nine. I can’t control my emotions. It’s also not just the band that gives me such a high and wonderful feeling at concerts. It’s the other fans. Being in a room full of people who love the same band as I do, possibly for different reasons as well as the same reasons, is such a beautiful and incredible experience. We look out for each other, we share emotions with each other; for those couple hours we become family. We carry each other. Literally and figuratively.

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Photo: Joy Zylstra

 

Now, I’ve been to a ton of concerts (I’ve lost count) and I haven’t cried at all of them. There’s just a handful of bands that have brought that emotion to me in the moment. There was one concert where I was so grateful towards the band that when they came out on stage, I not only cried in excitement and gratitude, but I also almost peed my pants – I know. TMI. Sorry. But it’s true. I was so excited to see them. I’m sure you’ve been so excited and happy about something that you’ve had to cross your legs too to avoid an embarrassing situation (come on – admit it…don’t leave me hanging alone here). This band reciprocated the appreciation – during the two hour concert, they thanked their fans and showed so much love towards us, more than a dozen times. It was very clear that we, the fans, mean as much to them as they mean to us. The band? Five Finger Death Punch.

5FDP sign
I’ve never made a sign for a concert. Until I was seeing Five Finger Death Punch for the second time. Their music has impacted me so much, I needed them to know. The lead singer, Ivan Moody, signed the sign for me to show his appreciation.
5FDP
Five Finger Death Punch Photo: Joy Zylstra

When a band has earned me as a fan, I’m a fan for life. Their music will always mean more to me than they can ever possibly know.

I’ve included links to two songs from two of my favorite bands that mean so much to me, so maybe you’ll be able to understand a bit more of why I cry at concerts. They get me. It almost feels like these songs were written specifically for me, even though I know that’s not true. But it brings so many feelings inside my heart that these bands have earned my love and respect. Always. Because I owe them my life.

Five Finger Death Punch – Lift Me Up

In This Moment – The Fighter

Do you have a band or musician that makes you cry? What is your escape from the hard things life throws at you?

music makes me