May

27

Memorial Day Musings

Posted by : Brian | On : May 27, 2014

Today is Memorial Day and I would be amiss if I didn’t at least make a comment about it. What kind of American would I be if I missed this opportunity?

There seems to be only two options for how to celebrate today. The first option is of course to take a few extra days off from work, go to the beach, invite some friends over, have a BBQ, and then shovel down some Oscar Meyers.  The other option is to take 20 seconds to write a condescending Facebook post about people that forget the “true meaning of Memorial Day” or copy/paste a “Freedom isn’t Free” picture and then venture off on their extra days off work to go the beach, invite some friends over, have a BBQ, and then shovel down some Oscar Meyers.

Photos of flag-draped coffins, eagles, and crying family members with the words “Freedom Isn’t Free” or “Land of the Free, Because of the Brave” flooded social media today. Some people were even able to post personal stories or even name names of men and women they know that have died in a war. As a lover of life, I truly do mourn the loss of these men and women. I am lucky enough to never have known somebody personally that has died in war, but I do know plenty of people that know of others that have died in past wars as well as the current.

These deaths are a tragic thing, but the tragedy is multiplied when the deaths are in vain.

The posters tell me that the hundreds of thousands of men and women that have died in our nation’s history did so in order to keep America free. Why is that so hard for me to believe? Complete this sentence for me: 6,805 men and women have died in OIF and OEF so that Americans have the freedom to…

…to what?

Exercise free speech?

Bear arms?

Have a trial by Jury?

Maintain privacy?

Drink raw milk?

Come to think of it, those freedoms are being attacked, but not by Iraqis or Afghanis (or Syrians, or Libyans, or Iranians, etc, etc, etc…)

So what about Memorial Day?

I actually had to think long and hard about how I would “celebrate” Memorial Day. Surely all those that have died can be memorialized in one way or another, but it would be wrong to memorialize them in the same way – for me at least. Here’s how I have grouped those that have died and how I “remember” them.

THOSE THAT HAVE FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM

No, this does not include every single American military member that has been killed. This group includes those that have fought and died in just, defensive wars and engagements that were ACTUALLY fought to gain or maintain freedom and liberty. The Revolutionary War comes to mind here. This does not include those that have fought on foreign shores in offensive, aggressive, or pre-emptive war. Of course, there are far more people that have been killed in defense of liberty than just military members. They are included here.

To this group: you are true patriots. Thank you for your service in promoting freedom and liberty for all men and paying the ultimate sacrifice for such endeavors.

THOSE THAT *BELIEVED* THEY FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM

These men and women create the majority of those being memorialized today. They joined for the same reason I did back in 2004. The myriad of red, white, and blue words can be inserted here: Patriotism, honor, duty, freedom, liberty, justice. Unfortunately, those good and honorable virtues were used against them and with a cry of “FREEDOM,” they were killed in unnecessary, immoral, unjust, offensive, aggressive, and illegal wars. These deaths are the most mournful as they died needlessly for what they “thought” was right.

To this group: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have become just a statistic, or just one more headstone in the Arlington National Cemetery, or just one more named etched upon a war memorial. I believe that your intentions were just and honorable, but those of the ones that dictated your actions were not. You should have been home with your moms, your dads, your wives, your husbands, your sons and daughters.

THOSE THAT DESIRED TO KILL OTHERS

I hate that I have to even add this group, but the minority is out there. At least I pray that it’s a minority. I have heard with my own ears people that have a craving and an eagerness to kill others. They want to end human life. This doesn’t even end with the enemy, but goes as far as “I want to go kill every single (insert nationality here).” What a disgrace. The military is their legal justification to pursue their social fantasy of murder.

To this group: I do not celebrate you. I will not eat a hot dog for you. I will not thank you for your service. You may have “legally” fought, but murder is in your heart (1 John 3:15).

THOSE NON-AMERICANS 

Being a part of the human race is more important to me than being an American, therefore I mourn and memorialize the deaths of those that American troops have unjustly killed. I know, I know – how “unpatriotic” of me. I should only care about American deaths because I’m an American.

THOSE WHO DARED TO SAY “NO” TO WAR

That title is adapted from the book I just started reading yesterday, We Who Dared to Say ‘No’ to War: American Antiwar Writings from 1812 to Now. As we remember those who have died in war – both just and unjust, I couldn’t help but think that we needed a memorial day for those who refused to participate in the historically unjust wars. I’ll just add them to this holiday for now. If a war is unjust, then it becomes the antithesis of freedom. Therefore, speaking against injustice (as unpopular as it may be) is sacrificing oneself for freedom.

Ron Paul’s comments on Memorial Day:

For me, Memorial Day is a very sad day. It’s sad not only for the great loss of life in so many wars but tragic because the deaths could have been prevented. For America, going to war has become too casual and routine. They are now fought without a constitutional declaration and are not pursued in defense of our country or liberties. I’m convinced that this loss of life that we praise with patriotic fervor on Memorial Day can’t be made more acceptable by denying the truth.

We should not continue the propaganda and deception that generated support for the senseless wars in the first place. The one option that might help for so many soldiers dying in vain is if we have a change in government policy that would prevent these needless and senseless wars from occurring. Those of us who understand how so many of our war deaths could have been prevented are not assuaged by the glorification of war and the false praise on the participants who were misled into participating in them.

Our heartfelt grief cannot be dispelled by falsifying the real reasons of why we go to war.”

With all that being said, Memorial Day is a good day to think. It’s a good day to think about what is worth dying for (For instance, correcting me on ending a sentence with a preposition is not worth dying for). The past cannot be changed. If they have died in vain, creating a false glorification of war can not turn back the clock to create a purpose for their death. The only rectification can come through the actions that we take in the future.

Comments (2)

  1. JoshW said on 27-05-2014

    Thanks Brain. Tough things to consider on a day such as this, but things that need deep consideration regardless.

  2. Mark James said on 27-05-2014

    Thanks Brian – made me think.

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