Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. Many people do not know that Memorial Day began as Decorations Day, an event created by African Americans to honor Union soldiers of the Civil War. Its scope grew and it developed after World War I into an event to honor Americans who have died in all wars. Today, it honors Americans who have died while in the military service.

It's befitting to remember and honor the men and women who have died serving our country. But it would be wrong to equate Memorial Day with honoring militarism or aggression or American superiority over other countries. It is not, and should not become, a day to celebrate military service, nor should it be considered a day to equate patriotism with support for American military engagement. Memorial Day has become, and should remain, an occasion to express remembrance and gratitude to men and women who have taken seriously their duty to their fellow Americans and who have died while performing that duty.

I am opposed to wars and especially to wars launched with the objective of strong-arming the world around us into doing our bidding. War is an entanglement into which a country should go only as a last resort and only then after all other options have been exhausted.

That having been said, the men and women of the military do not set policy about wars; they only execute the policies they are given. Whatever they do at the behest of their commander-in-chief and their country, whether that direction is right or wrong, the sacrifice of their lives, made while performing that service, warrants our deep and everlasting appreciation.

1 comment:

Tara Rinaldi said...

and let us not forget Memorial Day in various southern states: depending on where you live, it is celebrated anywhere from January to May to honor the confederate civil war dead. I suppose, they too, the killed southern soldiers should be honored. We forget what a horrible loss of life happened: 600,000 in all; 25 percent of all southern white men.

I'm just glad the Yankees won.