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.
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