May 26th, 2008


Memorial Day

There's something to be said for a U.S. holiday meant to acknowledge the sacrifices of soldiers that is usually spent getting bargains at department stores. Oh wait, that's what we do with every holiday, isn't it?

Okay, maybe that's too cynical.

Still, being the current generation of a family whose fathers and grandfathers have all been in the armed forces, I get a little upset during this holiday. I will never believe that war is ever the right answer; unfortunately, it is and has been an answer — sometimes thankfully not the first answer — throughout history, and history is neither right nor wrong. It just is. Although you could probably make a case for the last eight years... but, you know, "bring 'em on", "mission accomplished", nu-cul-ar, golf, etc.

Things worth reading in between hamburgers and beer:

"Memo to America: BY THE WAY, WAR.

It's funny how things change over time. It used to be that Memorial Day was set aside to remember all the soldiers that died in our past wars, and pretend all those wars were justified. Now, it's a time we've set aside to actually remember that we're at war. In two countries. So far."
Global War on Terrorism casualties from 2001 to 2008 (.pdf file) from Funny how when you haven't seen the phrase "Operation Enduring Freedom" in a while, you realize you've forgotten to keep up with Get Your War On.

Finally, from the History News Network, A Day for Remembering -- and Accepting Responsibility, an article about Lt. Gen Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., who gave a speech in Italy back on Memorial Day, 1945.
"In his heavy rasp, Truscott told the dead men that he was sorry for what he had done. He said that leaders all tell themselves that deaths in war aren't their fault, that such carnage is inevitable. Deep down, though, if they're honest with themselves, he said, commanders and politicians know it's not true. Truscott admitted he had made mistakes, perhaps many.

Then he asked the dead to forgive him. He was requesting the impossible, he knew, but he needed to ask anyway.

Finally, Truscott debunked the idea that there was glory in dying for one's country. He saw nothing glorious about men in their teens and twenties getting killed, he said. He then promised the men buried at Nettuno that if he ever ran into anybody who spoke of the glorious war dead, he would 'straighten them out.' 'It is the least I can do,' he concluded."
For those of you who have served and who are serving in the military, thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for doing what the rest of us are too weak, too selfish or too afraid to do.
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