Friday, May 23, 2014

It's not enough ...

I tend to get a little contrarian around the holidays that bring out the displays of patriotism. Yes, we should honor those who fought and died to protect freedom. In so doing, we should also specifically honor the memory of those who were conscripted to fight in wars they didn't necessarily want to fight in and paid the ultimate price for doing what they believed was their civic duty.

But it's not enough.

Soft-focus images of military cemeteries, instagrammed photos of flags, and pious displays of patriotism do not honor those who gave their lives in bullshit wars of aggression when our freedom was not in peril. When not balanced by clear-eyed criticism of the decision to waste American lives for dubious ends, they are downright disrespectful. Not only to our fallen, but to the civilians of those far away lands who are often dismissed as collateral damage in our so-called War on Terrorism.

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I'm not saying don't remember those who gave all. I'm saying, don't forget how often they gave all for no good reason. When you don't hold chicken-hawk politicians accountable for their policy failures and criminal acts, you dishonor the dead. And you guarantee there will be more Iraqs, more Afghanistans, more Vietnams ...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Memorial Day encourages us to focus exclusively on soldiers who died fighting for freedom. As I like to point out around Labor Day, it wouldn't hurt to get a patriotic feeling and honor the memory of those who died for the real and tangible freedoms we enjoy today, until the Koch Bros. and their ilk figure out how to undermine the American Experiment completely.

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