Memorial Day, 2011

Though I have not had the experience of losing someone close to a war, I felt the need to write something about the sacrifices of the men and women who died serving our country, to acknowledge and indeed honor what they and their families gave.  I’m a little ashamed of having gone a good portion of my life not really taking stock of what this particular day means, beyond the fact that a long weekend comes with.  For years I’ve struggled finding balance with respect to honoring our dead soldiers and being mindful that romanticizing battlefield deaths does a disservice to them.  Instead, I’m going to link to Josh Marshall at TPM, I really enjoyed his take, and in particular these snippets:

“Memorial Day is a very different thing because it honors not the death that awaits all of us but the military dead, people who gave their own lives for a couple hundred million people they never knew. But for me solidarity with the dead is a window into it.”


“Some deaths may be more picaresque* or glorious in the retelling or maybe saving of more lives. But each must fundamentally be equal. Because what do we say to the 19 year old in Vietnam who stepped on a land mine to no particular consequence in 1967 when he says to us “I lost my whole life in our common national enterprise. Who will speak for me?”

It is a thoughtful, short and enjoyable read.  Take a minute.




*Your lying if you claim you didn’t have to Google this.





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2 responses to “Memorial Day, 2011

  1. You know who had a really beautiful take on honoring fallen soldiers was Reagan. I’m not sure off the top of my head what year it was, but his remarks at Arlington on Veteran’s Day were truly inspiring. He spoke of how we tend to think of the fallen as ancient and wise, even graying, but in truth, most of them were just boys. His words began, “The mind plays a trick…” He went on to say that they all lost two lives, the life they were living and the lives they could have had as husbands, fathers and grandfathers.

    But now we have wars for oil. Did these young men and women die in vain? Was each of the 57,000 dead in Viet Nam a pointless and utter waste of life? It’s time to rebuild a world of peace. Peace is the ultimate purpose of war. Or is it like the cartoon in the New Yorker where one of three generals with all their medals across their chests tells his fellow chiefs, “I am optimistic that peace can be avoided.”

  2. Junior, hence my reluctance to romanticize war. This country can wage conventional wars, we’ve proven it. Today’s wars are different, and the propaganda needed to incite and sustain war is harder to sell. Couple that with a population unwilling to share the sacrifices required…and you get these endless, seemingly pointless conflicts.

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