Why you don't joke around at Arlington National Cemetery!

November 20, 2012

Over the last few days, many people have asked me what I thought about "the girl from Plymouth". You know, the one yelling and flipping off the camera at Arlington National Cemetery, in front of the sign that says Silence and Respect. Lindsey Stone is her name and if you didn't know it before, after the news tonight, you will. This story has taken on a life of it's own, and it's only getting worse for Lindsey. Her and her co-worker, who were on a business trip last month in DC, when they visited Arlington and took the photo, are now both on unpaid leave from their jobs. The organization Living Independantly Forever, had to release a statement on their Facebook page condemning the photo, and stating that their employees actions do not reflect the company, or their stance on Veterans etc. There is even a page on Facebook, asking for their firing, and it has over 10,000 "likes" already.

So, how do I feel about it? Well, up 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.

And most importantly, she's never attended a funeral, where a flag is given to a crying widow, or mother "On behalf of a grateful nation".

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. 

How lucky for her!

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. 

When I first saw that photo, I thought it was a photo shopped joke, or a cruel prank. I even gave her the benefit of the doubt that she could be the victim in all of this. That someone took her picture and put it in front of that sign, to try and make her look bad. Obviously, that is not the case. This photo will follow her for the rest of her life. Every time she applies for a job, or applies for a loan it will come up. When her kids Google their Mom, that will be the first picture they see. Her name will be remembered, and she'll be treated differently by anyone who remembers... forever. 

She released a statement on Facebook saying that it was a joke, and that they were just acting like "douchebags"...and that they meant no disrespect. Lindsey, you're right... you were acting like douchebags. You came up with the idea for the picture, you took the picture, and then you posted the picture online, and at no time did you think for a second... THIS ISN'T A GOOD IDEA!?! How comfy that little bubble that you live in must be!

Do I think that Lindsey Stone is the most evil person in the world? No! I am confident that there are people way more evil than she is. Arlington is filled with the bodes of those who died fighting that evil.

Do I think she is one of the dumbest? Yes, she probably is. 

Like I said, up until she posted that picture, Lindsey Stone was one of the luckiest people on the planet...