There are lots of ways to honor fallen service members, veterans and military families.
They’re all good.
Anything honoring someone for doing something of value is good.
But “No Politics, No Pity, No Pansies” is probably the easiest, and it’s certainly a fun way to remind ourselves how blessed we are to live among heroes.
It’s a 10-year-tradition for my friend Emily Munoz. She started it to honor her husband, Capt. Gil Munoz, who was lost his life on February 9, 2005. In Emily’s words, she started it to “…ranger up in honor and memory of the greatest individual I have ever known.” But she continued it, year after year, as “… a pledge to live lives worthy of such sacrifice — and to honor the daily sacrifices of our military & their families, the changed lives of our wounded warriors, and the ‘high flight’ of all who have paid the last full measure.”
It’s grown over the years and this year Emily is inviting the whole world to join her. She hopes that people will use the opportunity not just to honor Gil, but to honor all the sacrifices that have been made in our military community — and to do it without the smear of politics, the burden of pity, or the, well, annoyance of pansies.
“It’s universal, and it’s not sappy,” Emily told me. “It’s not just for Gil. This is just about honoring the fact that there are some pretty awesome men and women in the world.”
Here’s how it works: At 8 p.m. EST on this Sunday, February 15, you down one shot of liquor, preferably tequila, and preferably without salt, lime or any kind of chaser. (That’s the “No Pansies” part.) And, if you’re so inclined, snap a picture of yourself doing it and post it to this Facebook page or use the hashtag #gilshot and post it to Instagram and Twitter. Feel free to add a line or two about who you were thinking about as you raised your glass.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. And you’re certainly welcomed to do it more than once.
I’ve known Emily for 10 years now, so I’ll definitely be joining in. Our friendship began in the chapel at Arlington National Cemetery in 2005, which would be a strange place to start a friendship, except that we’re both Army wives.
We were there for a funeral, of course. The husband of one of my close friends had been killed in Iraq. Emily didn’t know him or his wife, but her own husband had served in the same unit and died just a few months earlier. She came to the service to show support. Because that’s what we do, right? It was the first time she’d been in the Arlington Chapel since her own husband’s funeral.
My husband was deployed at the time, so I sat alone in the Chapel and Emily, also alone, sat down beside me. By the end of the service we were both crying, holding hands and hugging.
Like I said, it would be a strange start to a friendship for anyone but a couple of military wives.
I hate that she and I couldn’t have met some other way and I hate that the world is now short those two amazing men, but I’m forever grateful for our friendship and for every opportunity to reflect on all the men and women I’ve encountered in this Army-wife-life; the sort of individuals who live their lives like someone cranked the volume up to 10 and broke off the knob; men and women who live their lives straight up, with no chaser.
“I’m hoping that people will remember that exceptional people, every day, are raising their right hands to do the hard work that most of the country doesn’t have to do,” Emily told me. “And whether they think about Gil or think about somebody else, I hope they’ll take a moment to honor that service.”
I’ve got a bottle of tequila with a few shots left in it and I’ll be pouring one out and tipping it back on Sunday night for Gil and for far too many others — and for each and every one of you who stepped up to carry the weight of a nation. I hope that you’ll join me.
Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. She writes the Must Have Parent column for Military.com. Her work has been published nationwide including in The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.