Memorial Day

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I’ve always had a hard time with this day.  I’ve always had a hard time with the military, understanding my own feelings about those who, with the power of government behind them, put guns in the hands of young men and women and teach them how to kill.

Here we are in the 21st Century, and we are still doing this, putting weapons in the hands of young men and women, sending them out to kill human beings.

We hear the usual sayings, “they chose to serve,” “to protect and defend,” “those who died are heros,” all those things.

I wonder what Americans really want when it comes to protecting and defending.

Memorial Day has become in our modern world a day to remember those who died for the sake of protecting and defending our country.

I see the names, I read the IGTNT diaries over at Daily Kos, showing the pictures of those killed in war, showing their families and friends, telling of their lives, their interests, dreams, ambitions.

Protect and defend.

They chose to serve.

What is it we are now protecting and defending?  The right of a criminal misAdministration to continue to run roughshod over our country?  Who is protecting and defending us from these crooks?  Are they not the biggest threat to us all?

Those who are profiting off human suffering, who are making their business to enrich their own coffers at the expense of others, who is protecting and defending us from them?

And when we were attacked on 9/11, how were we protected and defended by destroying a country and so many, too many, of its people, a country that never attacked us?

They chose to serve.  Who are they serving?  And why?

It’s difficult to write about this.  I don’t want armies glorified any more.  Even when the cause is just, I still don’t feel it is heroic to kill other human beings.  I feel it is heroic not to kill other human beings.

And yet how can I not suffer for the young men and women who have been fed into the horrible grinding machines of powers, who have died in war, been maimed, had their minds destroyed?

They are human beings.  I think of what they could accomplish were it not for these terrible wars.

How do we defend ourselves?  Are guns and bombs the only way to defend ourselves?  I’m not naive, I know there are people in this world who would, by force of arms, try to destroy us as they have destroyed others.  There is real violence and evil doing in this world aside from the crooks who have taken over the halls of power in America.

How do we protect ourselves?  Is there perhaps a different way, one that doesn’t entail taking a young human being, in the prime of his or her life, and ordering them to destroy?  Is this really the epitome of serving one’s country?  I think sometimes, in the face of our own compassion for those who go into the military and get harmed, for the sake of their families, we look away from the hard question of whether this is the highest calling a citizen can answer.

If we really do value our soldiers, then we need to find ways to solve problems without going to war, we need to find ways to stop threats to our safety without going to war.  If we owe those who have fallen in war anything, I think it is that.

20 comments

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  1. … about what our armed forces do for us.

    But what will we do for them?

    I’d like to see their jobs become obsolete.

    • Valtin on May 26, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    And one that captures my sense also of ambivalence over these tributes to the fallen armies.

    Every soldier of every land, every victim of war — manwomanchild — deserves our mourning tribute.

    But holidays that sanctify the deaths of those that died defending the invasion and slaughter of hundreds of thousands, so that oil barons and military-linked corportations can suck up billions from the public coffers… this I cannot bring myself to “celebrate”.

    Thank you for your heart-felt examination of the duality of Memorial Day.

  2. what we the people have afforded them by virtue of electing a civilian leader responsible for their command. The question is when will America elect a person to that office with enough integrity and honesty to do that job as it was supposed to be done. I hope 2008 is the answer to that question.

    As things stand, We are the ones fighting for our freedom.

    • Viet71 on May 27, 2008 at 12:31 am

    killed on Guadalcanal and in Viet Nam and in Iraq didn’t die for some ideal.

    They died for their buddies.  And their buddies who survived have survivor’s guilt.

    Evil men sent these poor bastards to war.  And reaped rewards off of them.

    Let’s not wax poetic on Memorial Day.  When the bell rings, it rings for thee.

  3. This year new to the mix was a contingent of “Marines” on Harley Davidsons.  Upon hearing all the noise I thought it might be police motorcycles but this was a local motorcycle club who identifies with the US Marine Corps.  It was however far from the spit and polish of the fancy dress uniform with each rider wearing black “brain bucket” helmets, looking more like “hoods” with that tough guy look in leather and tattoos, they reminded me of our infamous puppy chucking marine.  The scary thought is that these people are going to enforce the CEO policy changes of the future.  Gee, how appropriate in this fascist America.  That and about three people turned out to actually watch the parade.

    Me, I just like the bagpipes.

  4. as someone who comes from a family who’s lost a loved one in the Iraq War… there is no more difficult a conflict to reconcile than the need to honor the “service” and sacrifice of our military with the ultimate wish that we could all find better solutions than war.

    Thanks for putting it into words quite respectfully.

  5. If you want to have a memorial…it ought to be for all the Soldiers who get USED.

    And that’s all soldiers…

    To all the soldiers:

    Nobody really gives a shit about you.

    You were used.

    It’s historical…

    It ought to be obvious by now….but we are all just as dumb as they were 15 centuries ago…

    Nothing has changed…..

    If people had any intelligence that had gathered and been passed on throughout the centuries….they would just laugh at the idea of someone telling them they needed to fight for their country…

  6. Bush told an audience of military figures, veterans and their families at Arlington National Cemetery. Of the men and women buried in the hallowed cemetery, he said,

    “They’re an awesome bunch of people and the United States is blessed to have such citizens.”

    That provoked a standing ovation from the crowd in a marble amphitheater where Bush spoke.

    “Whoo-hoo!”

    shouted one woman, who couldn’t contain her enthusiasm.

    To decorate the dead with enthusiasm, somehow.  Awesome bunch.

  7. and that’s what keeps war going.

    Not to mention “empire” has to be defended because some people, for some reason!, don’t like empires.

    Iceland doesn’t have an empire. They don’t have people attacking them (to my knowledge).

    I’m bitter about Memorial Day, angry that Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day.

    I celebrate Memorial Day as the day we remember past Indianapolis 500s. And I celebrate Veterans’ Day as Armistice Day, that is, Peace Day.

  8. To do this we must free ourselves of the warrior cult perpetuated by the State. I have to say, I feel less and less ambivalent about Memorial Day as the years go by. I look at our reasons for going to war and the way veterans are treated in the real world, and I can only feel that Memorial Day is simply propaganda intended to glorify war and maintain it as an unassailable part of foreign policy. When the nation goes to war, we’re supposed to rally around the flag. Is this democracy? Other words come to mind, but not “democracy.”

    Must we be in a constant war fever to defend ourselves? How many wars did we actually fight as defense?

    The National Assembly

    • OPOL on May 27, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I don’t want armies glorified any more.  Even when the cause is just, I still don’t feel it is heroic to kill other human beings.  I feel it is heroic not to kill other human beings.

    Amen sister!

  9. And what is really the difference? Is it defensive to go to another country, another continent to defend ourselves? A marine general, whose name I have forgotten, a two time medal of honor recipient, stated that all wars that aren’t fought at our borders are wars of offense, fought for Big Business. His stand was that all troops should be pulled back to with-in our borders, and any military action would be in defense of that border. After all, “the ravenous hoards” can’t walk on water.

    9-11? If the USA had followed the advice, and practice, of Israel in the 70s and made secure the doors leading to the flight deck on our airliners, 9-11 would never had happened.

    In my sometimes rough and tumble life, I have found that when in a defensive mode, I have never been hurt. Yet when I got offensive, which in full disclosure I did a very few times, I got my ass whupped. I learned my lesson early, didn’t get offensive, and didn’t have to fight, even in situations where “honor”, “possessions”, and “safety” were in doubt. Other skills were used: negotiation in many forms, loss of over weening pride, compassion for the “opponent’s” point of view.

    In short I grew up. It is time America grew up. Give up the pride (quite unearned most of the time, really), and learn to share. We have so much to share that is truly positive. America could lead the way into a more fruitful world if we just tried a different approach.

    Hopefully the pendulum will swing as far the other way as it has gone in the wrong direction in the last 8 years.

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