It is a curious thing. Other than perhaps Christmas I can think of no other holiday that brings out the desire to blog, not just for myself, but for others, like Memorial Day. It is a day charged with emotions we have a hard time wrapping our heads and hearts around. Many choose just to sit back and enjoy the three-day weekend, which I suppose is their right. It is easier than taking the time to reflect on what the day means. It is simpler to just rattle off a few patriotic platitudes than think about what was sacrificed and why.
I have always been uncomfortable with the hero-worship bestowed upon soldiers, even in the (very) brief time I attempted to be one. However, I respect those willing to put on the uniform to make themselves targets on our behalf, especially those who do it specifically because they hear the call to serve their fellow Americans. Even those who do it for school money, out of family obligation, or because they see it as the only job they can get sacrifice a lot. They sacrifice their safety, they sacrifice a lot of their time, and they even sacrifice a portion of the freedoms the rest of us enjoy to make sure our military remains a disciplined one. Some of them make the ultimate sacrifice, which is, of course, what today is about.
If we are truly going to honor those that laid down their lives for us we should take our blinders off. Most of these servicemen and women, regardless of their reasons for entering service, believed they were fighting for a worthwhile cause: the preservation of the freedoms on which this country was ostensibly established. There have been very few wars in which this was legitimately the case. The Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II are the only ones that come to mind, and there have been so many others.
Which is not to say their sacrifice was not legitimate. They did not “die for nothing” as those who try to coax unthinking allegiance to the flag would accuse me, and those like me, of claiming. They put their lives on the line because they believed it was the right thing to do. That is why we owe their memories more than just bland pomp and circumstance, and dangerous idolatry.
We owe it to them to hold accountable those politicians, and those moneyed elite, who sought, and who continue to seek, the sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to line their pockets. We owe it to them to exercise those freedoms they died defending to seek out the truth. We owe it to them to fight for their living brothers and sisters in arms who may yet be called to make the sacrifice, who will do so without question, because it is our job to question for them. We owe it to them to not remain willfully ignorant of the motivations of those who beat the war drums the loudest. Most of all, we owe them an honest memorial that honors them, and does not turn them into a jingo used to draw us into another unnecessary conflict.
- Sharing with all of you, my friend’s beautiful poem. Happy Memorial Day! (parentingwithconfidence.wordpress.com)
- Vets Remembered For Memorial Day (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
- Hagel Sends ‘Message of Thanks’ In Memorial Day Video (albanytribune.com)
- From the soldiers: ‘Time to remember all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.’ (Part 3) (pennlive.com)