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Dept. of The Past Is Another Country

Memorial Day

Memorial Day in the United States is officially a time to recall and honor the men and women of the military who have died in service to their country. 

These days, I'm not sure what "in service to their country" means. There are too many examples of wars - both official and unofficial - that in truth were not prosecuted to protect this country.

The days of the Second World War, the only recent war I can think of that can reasonably be called a necessary war, are long gone. In some ways I think we have returned to the days of the First World War, which was simply a toxic stew of nationalistic ambitions and power grabs. Only now, the wars that have been prosecuted over the last 55-60 years, at least by the so-called First World, are, when one digs down far enough, the results of murderously ideological experiments or callous economic decisions undertaken by corporate apologists. 

None of that has anything to do with the men and women, almost all of them young, who put on uniforms and went where their country told them to go, and died in the process. They are the people for whom Memorial Day should be commemorated.

War is horrific, and transforms people in terrible ways. I have no doubt that there were men and women who died in U.S. wars who did horrible things before they died. But I believe that more men and women in the U.S. military tried to do their duty with as much humanity as possible, in situations where humanity was at a premium. 

So here is what Memorial Day is, for me. 

A time to weep for, honor, and remember all the dead who served in the U.S. military and who fought in the Great Necessary War.
A time to weep for, honor, and remember the dead who served in the horrifically unnecessary wars that followed, for unnecessary reasons; indeed, a time to weep for and remember those who served in those unnecessary conflicts.
A time to weep for and remember the men and women who war transformed into monsters.
A time to condemn the generals, and chiefs of staff, and White House advisers, and White House occupants that made decisions that led to those deaths and to those monstrous transformations. 

Some believe that war will always be with us. I fear they may be right. Until that is no longer the case, I will continue to weep for, honor, and remember, those who died wearing this country's uniform. 
This entry was originally posted at https://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/697835.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here, but prefer to read over on DW. You can comment there using open ID if you don't have a DW account.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
eaweek
May. 28th, 2018 05:59 pm (UTC)
This is so perfect. Thanks for posting!
kaffyr
May. 28th, 2018 06:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading.
strannik01
May. 29th, 2018 04:00 am (UTC)
Beautifully put.

Since I didn't grow up with Memorial Day or Veterans Day, I don't really feel that much about them. Especially since my people and Americans weren't always on the same side of various wars. I mean, my people and Americans and your people fought on the same side in World War II, and I have no problem thanking World War II vets for their service. But being a Russian around veterans of Korean and Vietnam wars can be a bit awkward :)

I suppose it's a good thing that Russians don't really have a Memorial Day to honor soldiers who fought in all wars. The closest thing is Victory Day, and, well, I've written plenty about that already. But it may be for the best, given some of the morally grey/black wars we were involved in.
kaffyr
May. 29th, 2018 09:03 pm (UTC)
I think there are a lot of people in this country who don't think a lot about Memorial Day, beyond cookouts, and the first unofficial summer weekend.

It doesn't help that the holiday's origins are messily connected with the white men on the Union and treasonous Confederate sides deciding to make nice with each other. (That's something that I might have regarded as noble only a few years ago, before my thoughts on that war changed.)

I didn't grow up with Memorial Day, either. I grew up with Remembrance Day, a day which, although it grew to encompass all military sacrifices and living veterans, was heavily First World War-centric — not surprising, given the heavy toll that WWI took on British and Canadian forces, and those of other British Empire countries. My own grandfather was first an RAF and then an RCAF pilot in that war, and I recall going to Remembrance Day ceremonies in which he marched to our little cenotaph in my hometown.

But I think the idea of remembrance and mourning of military dead can be a good thing — if it is also a way to mourn the stupidity and horror of war.

I would like it if there was some sort of day to remember all those killed by war; perhaps someday Memorial Days, Remembrance Days, Victory Days, and all other such days around the world will evolve to take in that concept.
strannik01
Jun. 1st, 2018 04:42 am (UTC)
Thank you for telling me about Remembrance Day. That is, and I saw it with all sincerity, pretty interesting.

I would like it if there was some sort of day to remember all those killed by war; perhaps someday Memorial Days, Remembrance Days, Victory Days, and all other such days around the world will evolve to take in that concept.

I don't know if that's still the case now, but when I was a kid, remembering all those who died in World War II was a big part of Victory day. Especially in places like former Leningrad and former Stalingrad, which have seen death tolls near or actually at millions. As I've written on my LJ, Victory Day has always been a solemn occasion, a time of reflection and remembrance. I mean, there were the big military parades, but even there, remembering the victims was a big part of it.
kaffyr
Jun. 3rd, 2018 09:41 pm (UTC)
.. when I was a kid, remembering all those who died in World War II was a big part of Victory day.

That is good to hear, and, given the Second World War history of the former Leningrad and Stalingrad, makes sense.
flowsoffire
May. 29th, 2018 01:34 pm (UTC)
Complicated indeed, but your words ring heartfelt and true…
kaffyr
May. 29th, 2018 08:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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