Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Thoughts...

People often wish each other "Happy Memorial Day!," which to me is a clear indication they are not aware of the meaning of the day. That's especially sad considering that we have been in a de facto state of war (in that Americans are fighting on behalf of national interests) since October 2001 when we invaded Afghanistan - nine years and seven months. For some perspective, that's longer than World War II and the Korean Conflict combined. Only our involvement in Vietnam (~1954 - 1975) has lasted longer.
Almost everyone knows someone who is currently serving, or knows someone who has a family member serving. One would like to think we would be a little more mindful of the significance of the day.

I also sadly see some taking advantage of this national day of remembrance to pass moral judgment or to make pronouncements about US warriors' injustice or atrocities. This is a sad confusion. Not to diminish the horrors of war, but it's critical we separate cause from effect, and the deeds of an individual from those of the whole.

Memorial Day is not about whether our warriors' mission was correct or moral. That's not a warrior's decision to make - that comes from his or her civilian leaders, which is a different discussion entirely. Once a warrior is under orders, she or he has two choices - obey or be punished. Some do choose punsihment over obeying an order they feel is invalid or immoral (a very special kind of bravery to be sure), but we do not expect this, nor do we ask it.
What we are memorializing today is their willingness to serve and possibly be injured or die on our behalf, whether we ask them to or not. As far as I'm concerned, today we could as well honor ALL civil servants who put themselves in harm's way for us: police, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, et. al.
Hopefully, one day, our leaders will get over themselves, see the middle east for what it is, and walk away from it. They just want to be left alone. Just like (most of) us.

Our armed services are made up of volunteers from our communites. Whatever our thoughts about the morality of war, we should at least be grateful for their willingness to serve. We should keep them in our thoughts and prayers and wish them a safe and happy homecoming as soon as possible.

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