Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Good morning, dear readers. Today our nation honors those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to the rest of us, and the country as a whole.
It was formerly observed on May 30th, but in 1968 Congress moved it along with what is now President's Day, and Veteran's Day (in 1978 Veteran's Day was changed back to it's traditional date, November 11th) to specified Mondays in order for the public to get a nice three day weekend. The Veteran's of Foreign Wars, as well as a few other groups weren't too pleased by Washington's felicity, stating, "Changing the date merely to create three day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant attitude observance of Memorial Day."
Indeed, many of my young friends don't even know why we celebrate Memorial Day, other than to have a three day weekend which unofficially marks the beginning of summer (Labor Day unofficially marking the end), and a traditional day to barbecue chicken, franks, hamburgers, and ribs, or anything else you care to throw on the grill. And of course shark wrangling.
In a few hours I myself will spend some time preparing about six pounds of that A&W Coney Island Sauce we made in Cooking Club a few weeks ago. This will be added to some hot dogs, links, and buffalo wings, cucumber and potato salad, and banana splits our lovely resident manager, Tianna is preparing, with the help of other volunteer residents. All we need then would be some karaoke and we'd have quite a party going (no beer or case mangers though. We don't want to make a spectacle of ourselves like the SRHT employees at Christmas!)
But I have not forgotten the solemn nature of this day that we remember all of those who have died in the name of service to their country.
This is what the President said last Saturday in his weekly address about Memorial Day:
"On this day, we honor not just those who've worn this country's uniform, but the men and women who've died in its service; who've laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens; who've given their last full measure of devotion to protect the United States of America," Obama said. "These are the men and women I will be honoring this weekend." Obama said fallen troops should be honored not just with words but with deeds, including ensuring that combat troops have the support they need in the field and that veterans get the assistance they need when they return home. "In short, by serving all those who have ever worn the uniform of this country — and their families — as well as they have served us."
President Obama is getting flak from many veteran's groups, and the ever loud right wing noise machine, because he will be observing Memorial Day at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois, rather than at Arlington Cemetery. Some, like Glenn Beck lie out right stating he "has decided not to honor our troops on Memorial Day."
Can you not see the ignorance in making a statement like that, but also the blatant attempt to promulgate hate and resentment?
I can.
Our fallen heros are buried throughout the nation. There is no reason why those interned at Arlington National Cemetery should constantly receive preference over any others. Even the right's beloved Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush missed Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington (George stayed in Texas (his daddy didn't attend Arlington as President... ever!), and Ronny was at a G-7 Summit meeting in nearby Williamsburg, Virginia. Oh, how disrespectful!), but pundnuts like Beck suffer instant selective amnesia facing these facts. "Maybe this has happened before. I don't recall it," he said.
Try this new thing called the Internet for doing a little research genius.
I'm not a fan of war. I'm also not a fan of dying in them, or dying for no good purpose. There are very few military actions our country has involved itself in that I deem absolutely necessary. The Revolutionary War should be counted on that list. The Civil War, which Memorial Day evolved out of Decoration Day, first to honor Union Soldiers by former slaves, then all of the soldiers, both Confederate and Union, then all of the soldiers in all future wars (despite the worthy goal of ending slavery in the United States, the Civil War was fought mainly to protect an economic system, an issue that would repeat itself in future engagements. These days I would not be so quick to try a keep rouge states within the nation, letting, hoping, that all neo-cons, fundamentalist Christians, pro lifers, tea baggers, and most Republicans move to Texas and Arizona, and let them fend for themselves while leaving the rest of us sane people alone), WWI, (which we entered as a direct result of Americans being killed due to German submarine warfare, and the threat of Mexico declaring war on us as a diversionary tactic) and WWII. That's about it.
Wars are begun by old people at the end of their lives and fought by the young who don't know any better.
And those who create war, and those who profit from war, are the greatest criminals the world has ever known.
I served in the military from 1978 to 1982, a time when the nation was not at war. I have to tell you, although I was young and very dumb at the time, I doubt that I would have enlisted if the country was at war. I wasn't then, nor am I now all that ready to die. That time will come soon enough, thank you.
And I certainly am not willing to die to fulfill some politician's ambitions. Nor would I allow my children to do so.
If I had any.
I am fortunate not to know anyone who perished in direct service in war (I've known a few friends who died as a result of other factors while in the service. I know more friends who have died because of their use of alcohol and drugs). But I have known friends, dear friends, whose lives have been ruined by their involvement in war, most notably Vietnam.
But I didn't wish to get all morbid on this day. Our fallen soldiers, sailors, air men and women, even those freaking jar head marines wouldn't have wanted that. They would have wanted us to carry on, and try to end the wars that continue, and stop new ones from beginning.
And besides, I have to get ready to make some chile sauce, reset my computer to it's original factory conditions as for some reason my monitor is showing everything as pink and orange, and then of course, off to Malibu to find that shark (picture below... from last year).
Wish me luck!

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