I’ve never lost anyone I loved to war. In fact, I don’t think that I know anyone who has died in war. That feels absolutely remarkable given that I grew up with two parents who both served more than 20 years in the United States Air Force. Today, I feel deeply humbled by this reality.
On the news last night, I heard that six more soldiers died last Thursday while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan. They were stationed in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, a base near my home. Six more families without their loved ones. The future of our world altered in at least six more ways. Six more stories abruptly ended by America’s “War on Terror.” The whole thing turns my stomach, over and over and over again. It has for years.
Today is Memorial Day, the day we are supposed to remember the cost of freedom. We are to honor the people who’ve shed their blood for our country. Blood, like the thing that ran down my son’s legs when he wrecked his bike last weekend. Blood, the thing that races through my veins right now while I try to explain how an Air Force brat resents Memorial Day celebrations.
They lost their blood. They lost their lives. We buy beer and buns to celebrate… er, I mean to honor them. It makes me sick.
Today, just inside the entrances to grocery stores across the country you can find proud displays overflowing with freedom cupcakes, dead cow of every cut and quantity, and enough condiments to accessorize all that your grill may produce on this special day.
You can honor the dead with a new car purchase. I just did a google search for ‘memorial day sales’ and scored this news: Walmart Memorial Day Sale Heats Up: PS3, iPad 2, HDTVs, Deals. Great news, of course, for those who can still stomach a trip to that decency-forsaking retail giant.
Oh, and more great news… the neighborhood pool is now open for business. Grab your towels and noodles and head on over!
Seriously? Why aren’t we all wearing black, and making our way to one of the nearly 200 official cemeteries around the world where these people are buried? Why aren’t we fasting and donating our bbq dollars to scholarship funds for the children whose parents have died in battle? Why aren’t we holding the hands of the parents whose children are dead, vowing to do whatever it takes to put an end to this madness?
Yes, I said put an end to this madness. We must find a way to live peacefully on this planet.
I am talking about genuine peace – - the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living — the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children – - not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – - not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.
- President Kennedy, June 10, 1963, Spring Commencement at American University
When all of your “memorializing” is over, and you’ve applied the aloe to the sunburn, take a few minutes to go read or listen to this entire speech. Remember what this day actually cost America and decide if it’s a price your willing to continue to pay.
Photo credit: ginnerobot via Flickr