Green Beret and Purple Heart recipient Bryan Sikes gives me chills. In a letter responding to the narcissistic comments of Gwynth Paltrow about how a celebrity criticized on Twitter is like the experience of a soldier at war, Sikes opened fire.
He stood up for “my brothers who have had their limbs ripped off and seen their friends shot, blown up, burned and disfigured, or wake up every morning in pain.” He stood up for the wives and children of our combatants.
And then he made me love him:
“Understand me when I say this: war does not define me. It is a chapter in my life that helped shaped me. Being a husband and father is what defines me.”Thank you for that, Bryan. Because celebrities are often idiots. They should be issued a list of things that are not allowed to be compared to anything else. Like rape. Losing a child. The Holocaust. War.
Nothing is “like” war.
Even though there are good celebrities out there who get the military like Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, or celebrities who actually served in the military like Chuck Norris and Bill Cosby and Ice T, I don’t think such a list would help most celebrities.
Because celebrities--like many other people in our country--are never going to have the privilege of knowing anyone like you or your brothers and sisters in arms. They are never going to know anyone like all those wives and husband and parents and children who love and fret over and care for our service members.
Oh, those celebrities are going to be trotted out in front of the troops. If Cindy McCain (wife of former POW Senator John McCain, mother of a Marine and a sailor) has her way, Gwyneth will certainly get a chance to meet the troops.
But meeting isn’t knowing. Meeting isn’t understanding. Meeting isn’t isn’t reaching “the next level of consciousness.”
People like Bryan Sikes and his fellow service members are already at that level because they have earned their place there. That is a level of understanding few people will ever have.
And that is probably why we need celebrities to say stupid things. Although we have formal days set aside like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day to remember all those who have served and died for our country, those days don’t spark the visceral response that idiotic comments do.
So thanks, Gwyneth, for creating a place where we could hear Bryan Sikes speak for us. Where we could truly remember those we have lost and those who still suffer from war. Where we could remember that no matter what anyone else may think, war does not define us. It shapes us. And may it shape us into the kind of people the world needs to have more of.