Memorial Day Once Again

The flags are out, the parades assembled and the grills cleaned and ready for another Memorial Day get-together. This will be my 69th.  It used to be called Decoration Day and we neighborhood kids would hang balloons and crepe paper along with flags from our bicycles and ‘parade’ through the neighborhood.We all thought it to be pretty swell. They don’t refer to it as Decoration Day any longer, but there still is an effort to ‘decorate’ the graves of the fallen military.

Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued the 1868 proclamation declaring the first Decoration Day. He credited his wife, Mary Logan, with the suggestion for the commemoration. But the idea had its roots in the decoration of the graves of Civil War dead by women. Do the Vietnamese decorate the graves of their soldiers dead in the Vietnam War? Or the North Koreans, Afghans or Iraqis? Or for that matter, the Germans? I don’t know, but we do- or at least the relatives of the fallen military- or the Scouts, VFW Post, or other civic groups. Lots of small American flags blow in the breeze this morning in graveyards everywhere. When will it end? Not the decorations, but the newly dug graves?

Admiral Mike Mullin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke this morning and reminded the viewers that 6,000 new graves were dug in the past decade alone. Iraq and Afghanistan.  Still going on. America has been involved in so many wars over its short two-century life that we often date historical periods with the names of wars that were waged during that time.  The Civil War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War.  Of course WWI and WWII. Now, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War. I’ve lived through 5 of them. There hardly has been a time period of my life when a war was not going on. When will we ever learn?

The Networks have been running vignettes all this week on the lives of recent Veterans, focusing especially on those with severe disabilities. I watched men with no legs attempting to stand on their new orthopedic legs and others with severe brain trauma learning how to speak once again. They also highlighted the soaring divorce rates among returning Vets as well as the many with PTSD.  Although we’ve buried 6,000 in the past decade, there are another 50,000 at least who are alive yet living highly diminished lives stateside. Entire families forever changed or broken apart.

This new crop of returning Veterans will soon be added to the ranks of the Vietnam Vets as one more group of our citizens who were sent abroad through orders from some ideologues who supposed that such a mission would be in the best interest of this nation. Studies of the Vietnam Vets reveal that many of them have endured vitiated lives as a result of being shipped over there in a war that seemingly had no value and no outcome. The present-day Vets returning from both Iraq and Afghanistan will soon be plagued by the same set of ghosts of war as they, too, begin to ponder why they were sent to those god-forsaken lands, especially those wounded warriors returning from Iraq.

It may take rather a while for the Iraqi Veterans to realize and/or admit that they were pawns, cannon fodder in fact, sent over there by a small clutch of ideologues for self-satisfying reasons. It will take time for the Patriotic Fervor to wear thin, but it will wash off as these men and women move on in life. Then the reckoning will exhibit itself in perhaps most-unpleasant ways, just as it did for those returning from the jungles of Vietnam. For all of those who fought in a war with no ‘victory’ it is especially difficult to maintain the memories of those battles, the gunfire, the smells of war.

Children will be sitting on curbs this morning, American flags stuck in their hands by the adults.  They will be enamored by the noise and sights of the parade vehicles and the cheap pieces of candy thrown to them. One wonders: will these children too be sent off to distant lands to fight wars conjured up by ideologues sitting in comfortable chairs with axes to grind? When will we ever learn?



8 thoughts on “Memorial Day Once Again

  1. I just came home from a parade in an up-scale suburb of Toledo. The nicely dressed children with name-brand clothing sat on the curbs, some with their cell phones and other with IPods. They watched and gathered the candy. But, seriously, none of them will ever themselves be called to war. The have ‘connections’ through their affluent parents and, like most Americans, will only watch the next war on the TV or IPhones.

    As in medieval times, it will fall to the lower classes to fight and die in future wars. The cannon fodder for mad kings and politicians. What a farce!

  2. QUERY #1 : Of the 26 Republicans who voted last week requiring a timeframe leading toward a U.S. withdrawal and negotiations with the Taliban to seek a political solution to Afghanistan conflict, how many will vote against increasing the Department of Defense budget by 3% ?

    Background : The Ryan Budget (which the House has approved) includes an increase in spending for the Department of Defense but significant cuts in every other function.
    H.R. 1540 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012 has a number of earmarks including $425 million of unrequested authorization for upgrades to M-1 Abrams tanks and M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

    The ones to watch : Justin Amash, Roscoe Bartlett, Charlie Bass, John Campbell, Jason Chaffetz, Howard Coble, Jimmy Duncan, Jo Ann Emerson, Scott Garrett, Tim Johnson, Walter Jones, Raul Labrador, Mick Mulvaney, Rich Nugent, Ron Paul, Tom Petri, Bill Posey, Scott Rigell, Dana Rohrabacher, Todd Rokita, Ed Royce, Chris Smith, Cliff Stearns, Fred Upton, Joe Walsh and Ed Whitfield.

    QUERY #2. How many carrier groups should the US maintain ?

    Background, no other Navy, (or country) has more than ONE … would 3 be enough … or 5 … or 9 ?
    The House Armed Service Committee is requiring the Navy to maintain a minimum force of 10 aircraft carrier air-wings and a dedicated headquarters for each. The Navy has no operational need for a 10th carrier air wing and that could save DoD approximately $22.2 million over five years (FYs 2012-2016).

    America is the World’s Policeman that Congress is fully funding while voicing concerns about spending on Medicare …
    YES, we need to defend ourselves from attack and punish anyone that attacks us … but if we PAID for it in current taxes and not by running up the debt, Congress would be respond to the people’s needs and not to the military industrial complex.

  3. And just what war did you serve in Mudrake? Or did you get a deferment because you were married or going to school or just didn’t feel like going to war? What have you done for your country other than basically say it sucks to be an American? Why did you go to the parade? Did you grill out? If so then thank a soldier for that and for being free enough to say America sucks on a daily basis. They paid for that right with their blood.

  4. And so another five and dime junior fascist profanes the sacrifice of those who died to defend his freedom of speech to tell those he disagrees with to STFU!
    Shame on you, Cal. You cheapen their memory and the ideas that have kept America free. Shame on you.

  5. My generation grew up with a democratic military, the draft, and not the professional military that the elite has given us today. During that time I did not ask for a deferment, but my country gave me one because it considered teaching to be a necessary critical national skill. Unlike the wealthy of that time, like the Quales’ and the Bush’s, many of us did not purposely seek out a way to avoid the draft; it happened in the course of human events.

    During that time many returning military from the Viet Nam war were in my classes in a state college. Moreover, the USAF employed me to teach courses on an SAC air force base in Texas, and for a civilian to enter a SAC base during that war required security clearance. While I don’t wear my patriotism on my suit lapel, I am no less patriotic. Last night I watched the Memorial Day clelebration the the U.S. Capitol and who could not be moved by that program?

    It is not unpatriotic, Cal, to question the congressional-military-industrial
    complex. Indeed, it was the former Supreme Allied Commander in WWII and later President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, who instructed us to do so. Eisenhower is not a patriot? Well, to the GOP of today he proabably is, that is what “sucks”, Cal!

    Since WWII the freedoms of the United States have not been threatened by any of our so-called wars. Again, Eisenhower stopped the Korean War. If our basic freedoms were threatened by North Korea Eisenhower would have continued the war and not ended it. Nixon and Ford ended the Vietnam War,and the “enemy” won that war. Now, we have the Bush and Obama wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya which are all mistakes. We are trying to build entire “colonial” socieities in these countries. In Afghanistan we are spending ourselves broke with $100BILLION a year and have no purpose, no goals, and no results.
    And, if we had a draft, the United States would have been out of Iraq and Afghanistan by 2004. Now, Cal, our military is dying in Afghanistan to prop up the Karzi corrupt government. This is why the congressional-
    military-industrial complex has to be questioned wants a professional military, a non-draft military. And, Cal, this is the real internal danger to our basic freedoms. May I suggest that those of you who doubt this read some of the speeches on that topic by Ron Paul. Is Ron Paul unpatriotic?

  6. Apparently Cal is more of a ‘patriot’ than any of us, just like a fundamentalist Christian is a much holier person than any of us.

    Self-proclaimed righteousness makes me hurl. So does ignorance.

    Get it, Cal?

  7. M_R, you write that the returning vets of today will “ponder why they were sent” to these “Presidential Wars”. In addition, you have compared their response similar to those vets of the Viet Nam War.

    It seems to me that there is a difference between VietNam and today veterans. Viet Nam was a consript military, a military based on a national draft system. Today, we have a professional military, an entirely different beast than a military based on national consription.
    I can understand a VietNam vet of asking why they were sent there. However, the soldier of today doesn’t have that luxury. They joined up;
    they wanted to go fight.

    Here in Jackson a marine was buried recently in his fourth tour of Iraq and Afghanistan. Why so many tours of duty? Some of it is because of a lack of enlistments which a professional army depends on, and some of it is based on personal decisions. It is their job, their livelihood now.

    Two different militaries is what we have. There is no comparison; it is a contrast. In the conscript veteran they came home to resume their civilian life. The used the G.I Bill to attend college and become professional, or they returned to a business or profession that they “temporarily” left. On the otherhand, the veteran of today has found their lifestyle, they like war games. They can not go and serve one enlistment, but stay on and on. It seems to me, M_R, this is a totally different mindset between VietNam and the military of today.

    Therefore, the problem, as I see it, is how can the vet of today be reunited with civilian life in the same manner as a VietNam vet. They will not be content to live the boring life of a civilian. Unlike your premise, the military of today wants those “battles, the gunfire, the smells of war.” I cannot be as optimistic as you, M_R, that “these
    men and women move on in life.” Even if they are able to return to civilian life, a life which they have fled because it was not meeting their needs, I am afraid what that life will be.

Comments are closed.