Memorial Day

Warning: I’m about to say unpatriotic things. (Or so the Ashcroft brigade would have you believe.)

Today we honor those who have died to secure our freedoms. This is an important thing, but not without danger. The danger is that it becomes a celebration of the glory of going to foreign countries and killing people who are different from us. The danger too is that it become a celebration of war.

Memorial day is not (should not be) a celebration of war. It is a remembrance of the human cost of war. A memorial of the dads and sons and brothers, as well as moms and daughters and sisters, who died, often horrible, painful, terrible, lonely deaths, so that you can enjoy the freedoms that you have. Freedoms, I feel compelled to note, Mr. Ashcroft and his croneys are snatching away just as quickly as he can force bills through Congress.

Remember today that thousands upon thousands of men died horrible wretched deaths in the Revolutionary war, so that you would have the right to travel freely, to have representation in government, to not be forced to billet soldiers in your home, to carry a gun, to worship freely, to be free from unwarranted search of your person or property, and numerous other things which we, the people of the United States of America, considered to be worth dying for.

Remember also the young men and women who are dying today in Iraq, so that the people of Iraq may have those same freedoms in the future. Completely aside from your personal convictions as to the rightness of that war, remember those young people. Pray for them. And pray for your representative in government, who is sending those young people to die for reasons which are not really clear to most of their constituents.

Remember that peace takes considerably more courage than war, and talking takes more courage than killing. I sincerely hope that some day we’ll have that kind of courage, as well as the courage to honestly consider whether our “enemies” might have valid points about our behavior in the world.

And, on the risk of being “anti-american,” think back a couple hundred years and remember the folks who were labelled terrorists over the decades. Paul Revere. George Washington. Jomo Kenyatta. Robert Mugabe. Lech Walesa. Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Robert E. Lee. And consider for a moment whether any of their causes were in fact just.

Alas, I suspect that most of my readers are in fact capable of independent thought, and, thus, I’m speaking to the wrong audience. My dad told me yesterday that someone at the airport on their recent trip roundly denounced the misguided people who think that the invasion of privacy at the “security” checks at the airport is actually a bad thing, and accomplishes nothing. Yes, she said, she had read the report saying that the billions of dollars spent on security enhancements had accomplished precisely zilch, but she didn’t believe it. She felt safer. I’m guessing that her kind is rather too busy watching Fox News to read blogs. Which is a pity.