If you haven’t heard of Lindsey Stone, she’s the woman who got caught giving the middle finger while mock-screaming to the “Silence and Respect” sign at Arlington National Cemetery. Stone works for a non-profit that assists adults with disabilities — at least for the time being. She’s on unpaid leave while the organization decides her fate.
It took me years to actually visit Arlington because I knew that it would be incredibly hard to control my emotions. As I’ve already disclosed in previous posts, it’s often difficult for me to even thank veterans for their service without getting a lump in my throat or misty eyes. I’ve always been a bit embarrassed by this, which is why it took me longer than it should have to finally pay my respects. Ms. Stone’s behavior, more than anything else, gives me an opportunity to encourage you to make the trip if you ever have the opportunity. It’s worth it.
With that said, perhaps the best piece of I’ve read so far comes Mistress Carrie’s Blog:
[U]p until she posted the photo on her Facebook page, and all hell broke loose, I think Lindsey Stone was one of the luckiest people on the planet.
First, she is a woman, born in the U.S.A., which the odds are against in the grand scheme of things. She could have been born in Afghanistan, China, or in the Congo, where she would have led a very different life. She could have been born in N. Korea, or Iran where I’m sure they do not look kindly at disrespecting their war heroes. Here in the U.S.A.., what she did isn’t a crime, it’s protected by the First Amendment.
Second, in one of the most tragic economies America has ever seen, Lindsey is employed, at what looks like an amazing organization, that is really helping people and changing the world for the better. How many of us can say that about where we work?
And finally Lindsey, judging by her actions alone, has made it through life without knowing anyone in uniform. That has to be the case right? I mean, how could she have family who has served in previous wars and do what she did? Or, how could she know someone now that is currently serving, after 10+ years of war and terror, and make the trip to Arlington and do what she did?She’s never had to say goodbye, or cry herself to sleep worrying. She’s never packed a care package, or written a love letter to someone far away. She’s never had to pray for a Skype call, or be afraid of the doorbell in the middle of the night. She’s never had to see someone she loves go and look evil in the eye, only to come home a different person.
She doesn’t know anyone buried at Arlington, except for the few that she learned about in school like JFK. She probably doesn’t even know what Section 60 is. …
She’s part of the 99% that don’t have someone they love, in harms way. How amazing for her. Up until a month ago, Lindsey Stone was living the American dream. The dream where Memorial Day and Veterans Day means long weekends off for BBQing, beer drinking, and good deals on new cars. Up until a month ago, Lindsey Stone wasn’t afraid. Now, as the hours go by, she learns more and more that her “innocent” joke, wasn’t a joke at all. Somehow, she made it through the gates at Arlington, and wasn’t overcome with the sadness and loss that everyone else feels. But, now she feels sadness and loss … and regret too I bet.
Ms. Stone has apologized, although like most apologies these days it seems more like a “sorry I got caught” than a sincere apology. And, it’s based on the idea that simply saying “sorry” when we act like “douchebags” (her words) makes everything okay.
Some of the worst comments I’ve read across the net on this story say, in essence, that we need to stop worshiping the military, which is odd to me coming from people whose cult-like admiration for President Obama knows no bounds. If there is one group on the planet we should cherish, it’s the men and women who safeguard our freedoms. One of the few legitimate functions of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. The world will always be filled with men like the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, who seek to make themselves gods among men. In the United States all that’s really asked of the population is to show the soldiers who held the hordes at bay a little respect. For Ms. Stone, even that simple request was too much to ask.
This incident will follow Ms. Stone for years, and while I believe that it is rare that one event should be used to define a person’s entire life (Let he who who is without sin cast the first stone…), we must be held accountable for our actions. When I started this blog years ago I worked at The Heritage Foundation, and I had to be very careful about what I said, knowing full well that how I conducted myself outside of work could be used to damage the reputation of my employer. My new jobs gives me more leeway in regards to what I can say politically, but I still strive to conduct myself in ways that will not cause headaches for my employer. That’s what adults do. Unfortunately, modern America is filled with immature, narcissistic men and women in their late twenties and early thirties who never grew up. There is a difference between being a dad and being a father. Legally, you can be an adult while demonstrating for all the world to see that you are a child. Exhibit A: Ms. Stone.
The great thing about life is that it’s filled with learning experiences. Every moment of every day offers an opportunity to grow as a person and nurture our better angels. It is our choice to take advantage of them or let them go wasted. Hopefully, Ms. Stone will draw upon this moment to mold herself into the better person she was meant to be.