Memorial Day 2013

By on May 27, 2013
graves

gravesMemorial Day is traditionally the start of summer, although most Americans are still at their wintertime tasks. Political types get out to cemeteries dotted with small flags and praise those who have served this country in the military and those who have gone on before. It used to be a day for public parades, stirring and uplifting.  Men would get dressed in their old uniforms, if they still fit, and march down main streets of towns all across the US, showing their medals and their determination. Kids in school bands joined in. I recall a fat lip obtained from marching one Memorial Day and playing the trumpet and colliding at an unexpected stop.

paradeParades still exist, though they are old-fashioned. Now we seem to prefer marathons and shopping sprees. Since Viet Nam and perhaps Korea, we seem less sure that our cause has been just, and that our intent has always been honorable. In fact, in a recent poll, more Americans now think the Iraqi War was a mistake, fought for the wrong reasons. To be sure, no one mourns the loss of Saddam Hussein, but was bringing down the tyrant worth the price in lives and dollars that we have paid? I believe our reluctance to jump into Syria and expunge another monster tells the answer.

vetsMeanwhile we have created a whole new generation of men and women who are serving us nobly. Some now lie in those cemeteries dotted with little flags. Others sit and wait for the benefits they were promised when they signed up to serve. Each war seems to get more and more horrendous. We are very good at figuring out new ways to maim and kill each other. These new methods eventually spill out into the civilian population with para-miltary nuts out defending their Second Amendment rights at local schools and cineplexes.

vetspeakMy belief is that if we truly want to honor those who have served this country bravely, we should respect their right now to grow old and enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices. We should also stop creating new veterans until we can meet the needs of existing ones. We must stop policing the world and start supporting a UN that will do this for everyone. The GI bill that encouraged WWII veterans to return for advance schooling was one of the best things this country ever devised. The individuals benefited in earning power and intelligence, and we benefited from a more savvy voter population who were better at sorting through lies and distortions and occasional dingbattery spewed by politicians, who increasingly have come to symbolize the worst this country can muster.

This year lets have the veterans give the speeches and the politicians will sit and listen.

 

Tom Godfrey

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