We’ve come to that holiday that half the population mistakes for a sale at Walmart and the other half just forgets. Unless the horror of war has touched you in some personal way you may have forgotten the purpose of the day too – to honor our nation’s military dead.
That’s what makes Memorial Day the second most American holiday after Independence Day. On one, we celebrate sacrifice and on the other we forget about what sacrifice costs. Either way, we celebrate both days in exactly the same way – with apathy and ignorance of our history.
I’m a Cold Warrior. I served during one of the few, distressingly brief periods in which we’ve not been at war. I’ve known many people who were not so fortunate and I’ve participated in enough realistic military exercises to see the power of fire and the rain of death up close.
The Hell of War
I believe I have some small idea of the hell of war. However, I’d never pretend to know it like someone who’s been there. In that respect, I have much in common with most Americans – including our President (who fought his war in Texas – when he felt like showing up) or our Vice President (who had “more important priorities”).
These men responsible for sending people off to die should have it weigh heavily upon them. But, they don’t seem to have given it much thought until their polls went south and we began calling for their heads.
Perhaps they’ve been too busy justifying their costly adventure. Maybe they were simply overwhelmed by handling something so tragic and complex as a war. I’m not sure. But I do know this – neither of them know the meaning of sacrifice.
For those with a short memory, let’s remember that one of the first pronouncements Mr. Bush made after 9/11 was to encourage people to shop. He said this while the embers of the collapsed buildings still glowed. That was his idea of sacrifice.
The War of Error
Since then, he cravenly connects his damnable War on Terror to Iraq in every speech. Not once has he asked anything of this country save forgiveness of the many mistakes he never admits. Meanwhile, Americans have sacrificed. They’ve offered up their sons and daughters and thousands of them have come home broken or in flag-draped boxes.
So, I’d like to take this opportunity to do something President Bush seems unable to do on yet another hallowed day. I call on all Americans to work together to end this bloody war. One of the few liberties we have left is dissent and we must respect it more than we do ourselves. We must keep healthy dissent alive for it is what our military fights for and what keeps us free.
A Legacy of Death
Mr. President, I hope you take a few minutes away from impeaching our freedoms to think about those dying at this moment half a world away. I hope you can once – perhaps for the first time in your coddled life – understand the gravity of sending men and women to die.
Unless you want your legacy to be many more despicably overcrowded Memorial Days to come, it’s time for you to make a sacrifice. It’s time for you to stare at your overwhelming hubris and cast it off before it ruins us all. And while you stare into the mirror, look closely.
In the background you’ll see a nation teetering on the brink.
Editor’s Note: I’d planned to write a special post for this Memorial Day, but I found that last year’s post, with some minor updating, said it better than I could say it again. Last year at this time I also took the opportunity to thank my nephew, who was then serving in Iraq, for his service. His tour was eventually extended and he came home four months late. He will go back to Iraq again later this summer and possibly be extended yet again.