Veteran social media personality and internet tough girl Emily Longworth had a sharp-tongued message for veterans on Memorial Day- Don’t get riled up if a civilian forgets what Memorial Day is about and subsequently thanks you for your service.
Seated furrow-browed in front of a webcam on May 28, Longworth posted a video titled, “Hey, veterans: stop telling civilians what to do on Memorial Day,” and then proceeded to tell veterans what to do on Memorial Day.
Copping an attitude out of the gate, Longworth attempted to explain that a civilian thanking a servicemember for their service -despite not being the intent of Memorial Day- could theoretically prevent a veteran suicide- a hot button issue in the United States.
“I know I’m fixin’ to start a fight and I don’t give a s***,” she says, alienating half of her audience from the start of the video with her aggressive demeanor.
“If you’re a veteran out here trying to dictate how a civilian spends their Memorial Day holiday-, or telling a civilian that they shouldn’t walk up to United States Military personnel and thank them for the sacrifices they made just because they had different f****** outcomes, [you] should be ashamed of yourselves,” she said.
While correct to an extent, Longworth’s war on Memorial Day correctness is misplaced. Much in the sense of calling a rifle magazine a “clip,” being unable to distinguish between Memorial Day and Veterans Day isn’t exactly something that should just be left alone. While jumping down one’s throat isn’t the best course of action, a tactful reminder would be the best utilized ordnance in such a situation.
For example, I received the following text from my soon-to-be mother-in-law over the weekend:
“So grateful for your service to our country,” she said, referencing my time as a combat infantryman in Iraq and Europe. “Our previous freedom, not free.”
Right there, I was faced with what seemed like an innocent misunderstanding of Memorial Day.
“Thank you,” I replied, “Though today certainly belongs to the fallen. I’m just one of the lucky ones.”
“Thank God you are,” she replied.
No profanity, no arrogance, no snappy attitude in a Facebook video, no awkward Thanksgiving dinner to come. In the often comically-depicted struggle between man and in-laws, guided munitions were dropped and maximum effect was achieved without collateral damage… At least in this case.
Thus is the struggle, however, for Longworth, whose abrasive approach ended up causing her more criticism than actually getting a message across- something she ultimately had to address in a later post.
“The fact that my previous video has received half as many shares/comments than my one minute and something-odd second video I released yesterday, addressing Veterans [sic] whom try to discredit a simple ‘thank you’ offered on Memorial Day from a grateful civilian,” she said, referencing a Memorial Day tribute video that did not do as well as her rant. “It is entirely possible to understand and correctly observe the meaning behind this day, while still being thankful for those who continue to lay their lives on the line for our freedom. The fact that it is mostly Veterans who have taken offense to this harmless gesture is beyond disappointing.
It simply proves that people flock to drama more than they cling to sincerity.”
“I still stand behind every word I’ve said,” she added. “Remember, I am only responsible for what I say, not for what you choose to misinterpret.”
To summarize, the case of Longworth is yet another great example of how a good idea or intent can fall prey to poor execution. By acting the way she did -demanding a certain behaviour of another in an abrasive and inappropriate manner- she makes herself no better than the people she is calling out. In short, any virtue she attempted to convey with good intent was shattered the minute she came at her audience -her own kind, no less- like an angry specimen often spotted during a late-night visit at your local WalMart.
When it comes to winning hearts and minds (especially in public forum), precision-guided tact and grace can often have more effect than an unwarranted display of aggression and arrogance.
Aim small, miss small.
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