The Warrior Dead and Military Dead

I have used the two terms Warrior Dead and Military Dead on and off, both here on this blog, and elsewhere. I felt that I needed to give some explanation, as the way I use these terms are not automatically interchangeable. Not everyone, Ancestor workers, spirit workers, or otherwise will agree with me, and that is fine. There are many I count as Warrior Dead that are not Military Dead at all. Not all the Military Dead are Warrior Dead. This does not mean that all our Military Dead who I do not count as Warrior Dead are somehow less.

For me, what makes the Warrior Dead and Military Dead different is this: a Warrior Dead has stood up in defense of their people and/or their ways, whether that sacrifice or stand is made on behalf of their tribe, religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc. They may have done so in spite of overwhelming odds, to safeguard a piece of their people or heritage. They may have given their life in service of their people, or their ways. Among the Warrior Dead I honor are the 4,500 Saxons who gave up their lives rather than convert to Christianity, and those who kept the sacred ways alive. Countless people not part of an army have risen to defend their people from oppression, genocide, invasion, hate, and privation.

Not all Military Dead are called to make such sacrifices. One of my grandfathers, when he passes, will have been in the military, and so I will honor him as part of the Military Dead. Yet, he will not have seen combat. He signed up, and so, would have been willing to place himself in harm’s way. I do not believe the only Military Dead worth honoring are those who have seen combat. As with my grandfather, one of my grandmothers has served in the Army in a noncombat role, she, as a secretary. Anyone willing to put their life in harm’s way for another deserves honor. Anyone willing to give up some of, if not all, of the best years of their life so another person does not have to, deserves honor. Whether one is a mail carrier, a secretary, a drill sergeant, a combat officer, or a medic, support staff or direct combatants, all deserve honor. All who are part of the Military Dead deserve our honor and our thanks.

I honor the Warrior and Military Dead together on a single shrine. Because of space constraints this is on a filing cabinet. On this shrine is Wepwawet, who I associate with the Warrior Dead. He is on the rightmost front part of the shrine. Standing before Him is a small ceramic cup (I think it was used for crème brule) which holds the whiskey I have in offering for all on the shrine. Beside it is a small mound of mugwort, and sometimes tobacco. In the center of the shrine is a ceramic container which contains the dirt from several veterans’ graves, which They granted to me with Their permission after I left offerings for Them and cleaned the dirt from Their plaques. It is something I try to do about once a month. To Their left is a pin I received at The Warrior Remembrance Ritual at ConVocation 2012, given to me by the ritual leader. I wear it sometimes when I serve the Military Dead; otherwise it stays on Their shrine. To the left of this is a US Armed Forces pin and a mirror from WWII. I was told the mirror had seen combat when I picked these up from an antique shop. Behind this is a muslin-wrapped figure whom I have given a lot of work to: Ramses II. Given he was a renowned warrior and his tomb had been disturbed, I have taken time doing spells and giving offerings for him. He has a small glass star at his head. The very front of the shrine has scraps of paper with the names of people I am giving offerings to, and prayers for.

Some of these Dead have responded in kind, and asked for me not only to pray for Them, but those They left behind. After all, this is a two-way street. We do not just look after the Dead. As the Lithuanian proverb goes, “The Dead are the protection of the living.” In honoring our Warrior and Military Dead, we offer Them a way into our lives, to walk with us again, and to share in our lives as much as our offerings. Our Gebo to Their sacrifices is to remember Them, to honor Them, and to keep Their memories.

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  1. Rose
    November 15, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    I think this is interesting; due in large part to the fact that women in the military who have a desire to serve in combat are not allowed to do so. Even now, women train side by side to serve in combat, but are still being held back from doing so. In addition, women Have seen combat, even as far back as the conflicts in Grenada and Panama, but due to the “laws” of this land, their combat (and wounds received from such) has not been honored with the same merit, and medals, as their male counterparts.

    We’ve even had a female POW, for goodness sakes, yet this country forgets.

    In addition, the “Warrior Spirit” of our military service men and women doesn’t disappear simply because there are no “front lines” on which they “fight” to defend the principles of our nation.

    Each service member signs on that dotted line to “protect and defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign AND domestic”. We give up rights civilians have, and we never regain those rights when we leave the military. For example, you can sue the government. We cannot, even if the VA takes off the left arm in surgery when they are supposed to take off the right arm (which is malpractice). We cannot sue. Families may sue on our behalf, assuming we have family left which even desires to stand up for us, but do you have any idea how many “non-combat” veterans live on the streets and “fight” their way out of homelessness with very little to no assistance?

    I honor your right to practice your spirituality/religion as you desire. I served, as did all, to ensure you have that right. But to suggest I, and others, are not warriors simply because we are non-combat is an insult, and I would Never insult the Military Dead in that manner. Never.

    • November 16, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      I did not intend to imply that because someone has not seen action they are not a Warrior; a lot of factors can make a person a Warrior. As I said, someone I regard as Warrior Dead

      has stood up in defense of their people and/or their ways, whether that sacrifice or stand is made on behalf of their tribe, religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc.

      I count the First Nation people standing up for the solidarity of their people to not have a pipeline encroach on or violate their sovereign territory. The various Amazonian people who stand up for their rights and in defense of their lands. These and many other indigenous people, military and non-military, who have died so their people, culture, and ways of life can continue on. I count these people, in addition to more well-known people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X among the Warrior Dead for their advancement of civil rights and defense of their people. If a soldier is taking the oath seriously, and conducts themselves as an honorable soldier I have no problem honoring them as Warrior Dead.

      A good deal of Military Dead fit this definition, but not all do. However, signing the dotted line does not make a person a warrior. It makes a person a soldier. I do not count my grandparents as Warriors; they have never referred to themselves as such, and I do not believe that my grandmother’s secretary work or my grandfather’s near-deployment is on the same level as those I count among the Warrior Dead. If you want to distill the distinction, that is your right, but I do not agree.

      There is another aspect to why I do not honor all the Military Dead as Warrior Dead. The soldier who rapes their supposed comrade-in-arms is does not deserve the title vs, one who risks their life or performs their duty. I will not call those who harmed their comrades Warriors. I will not give them the honor, nor the offerings. I will also not honor those who stood aside and let it happen. They do not deserve the honor of the title Warrior Dead, nor the offerings I would give.

      • Rose
        November 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm

        I respect and understand that distiction. Thank you for making the time to clarify your position.

    • November 16, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      I agree, it is quite ridiculous that we have the double-standard around women being deployed in combat roles. Certainly women have made their marks throughout countless wars. I think it is ridiculous that any woman who has served has not received her due.

      How this nation treats their veterans is absolutely deplorable. It is vile. We should not send our people to fight if we refuse to care for them when they come home. They deserve far more than the paltry ‘honoring’ this nation gives. No one who fights for their country should struggle to support themselves, go hungry, suffer from TBI, PTSD or the like without aid, or have to live on the streets.

      • Rose
        November 16, 2014 at 11:48 pm

        On this matter, we agree, completely but preaching to the choir, as they say, won’t change a thing when it comes to these issues. You, and others, must preach this to your (and our) political leaders because they aren’t listening to us silly, hysterical women, nor us crazy stressed out vets. Do you have an understanding of the problem from a veteran’s standpoint? I thank you for sharing your opinions and discussion. It matters and can make a difference.

      • November 16, 2014 at 11:59 pm

        I was refused entry into the Armed Services due to my asthma. I’ll never be a veteran. So, I think I have a limited understanding, and I imagine I always will. All I will have are the stories that living veterans, Warrior Dead, and Military Dead have shared, and the requests that they make of me. What I do is call my representatives, sign petitions, and agitate for change wherever I can. I was able to help a vet on the street get some food and get a haircut, and drove him to where he needed to get to. I clean local veterans’ graves about once a month and make offerings there; I have listened to their children talk about them when they’ve cared to talk, and have gotten permission to tend their families’ graves.

        I donate as I can to causes that help veterans out. Are there any you would suggest? I make donations as I can to the Wounded Warriors Project at the moment.

        I’ll be honest, I don’t write about what I do much because I don’t want it to come off like “Look at me!” or some kind of ego trip. I look at it as what service I can provide for those who served all of us.

      • November 17, 2014 at 12:01 am

        Thank you for sharing your views and concerns, too. It helps to know how I, and others, can improve, and what else we can do.

  2. November 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Spiders Web.

  3. November 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I thank you for what you do; contributing to the Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful thing to do. What I’ve been discovering, however, is that so many helpful agencies only address assistance for those who have served after 9/11. There is a gap when it comes to assistance for the many who served prior to this era and who still require a helpful hand out of the trenches and off the streets, as an example. I’m still searching for agencies which assist veterans of eras prior to 9/11 but I do know of one at the moment: SWAN, or the Service Women’s Action Network. They assist female veterans who are survivors of sexual assault/rape while serving. But their are many men who have, unfortunately, suffered the same indignities and are encountering the hoops of red tape to receive the assistance and benefits promised when they enlisted (i.e. injured during service, we’ll take care of you, they said). The same holds true for those who served during the Gulf War and now find themselves incredibly ill with Gulf War Syndrome; an incredibly unpleasant mix of illnesses which seem to be caused by an incredibly unpleasant mix of reasons. And the Vietnam veterans… my heart goes out to them. They are angels, drafted into service and used as pawns, spit upon when they returned, only being welcomed home properly the past few years.

    Finding organizations which assist veterans of all eras is a hit and miss thing. One must look carefully and decide for themselves; think critically and understand where your support is going. That is about all the “advice” I can provide currently as squaring away my own life continues to be a full time job due to the lack of assistance as structures and links continue to break down for various reasons.

    I almost feel as though I’ve said more than I should, but as was pointed out in a recent documentary I watched called, “The Last Patrol”, once the uniform comes off, the vast majority of us feel as though we no longer have a mission in life. And the vast majority of us are good, honest souls, seeking to do good things in this world and simply be ourselves while enjoying our lives to the fullest. I keep wondering what’s wrong with that, and why some feel the need to shoot down messengers.

    Thank you again for bringing up a topic of great import. I toast you with my coffee this morning.

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