Today's piece can't be an obligatory Memorial Day commentary.
I just can't do that anymore.
Waxing poetic about the lack of retrospection and the overabundance of gluttony during a three-day weekend has become stale. And I don't want to be just another spoke in that wheel of mediocrity.
No, today I'm going to speak out about something that many might find offensive, but I believe is worth getting off my chest...
I think I hate Memorial Day.
Let me clarify. I don't hate the idea of memorializing those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend my right to write these words today. In fact, I would argue that it is our inability to properly memorialize our fallen brothers and sisters that I proclaim to hate Memorial Day.
How can we honor fallen soldiers while casting our living veterans out as lepers? From the recent VA scandal to the droves of homeless and unemployed vets that seem to get “forgotten” by bureaucrats and politicians until election season, the way this nation treats its veterans is despicable.
One of the reasons I think I hate Memorial Day is simply the fact that it reminds me just how disconnected we have become to the harsh realities of war. One day a year we're supposed to take some time to honor the fallen, and what do we do? Throw together some half-assed parade? Leave plagiarized inspirational messages on our Facebook pages?
I think a great way to celebrate Memorial Day would be to show everyone some real video of what war looks like. Listen to the stories of those who came face to face with the death on the beaches of Normandy or the jungles of Vietnam or in the deserts of Iraq. Memorializing without proper context seems like a wasted opportunity to educate those who have been fortunate enough to never have had to go to war.
We celebrate Memorial Day as a way to remember the men and woman of our armed forces who died while serving. They lost their lives after they were called to war. They were called to not only defend the interests of the United States, but to defend those who simply could not defend themselves. These veterans acted honorably, even if those who sent them to foreign lands did not.
Look, I'm not so naïve to assume that war and conflict is something we can escape. But I have become more and more disturbed by the fact that after so many brutal wars, and so many Memorial Days, we're still spilling our blood and treasure in regions of the world where it is not our individual freedom and liberty that's at risk. And the argument that we're “liberating” those who need liberating is a sales pitch I'm not buying.
If we're so concerned about declaring war in regions where human rights violations are occurring on a mass scale, why aren't we invading North Korea? Why aren't we invading Sudan? Why aren't we invading Myanmar?
I'll tell you why. Because war in those countries does not best serve our interests. But in oil-rich nations (or nations in the vicinity of oil-rich nations), we either befriend dictators who treat their citizens like feral dogs and inconvenient speed bumps, or level them. There is no honor to this.
Now I'm not a soldier, and perhaps there's a lot I don't know. But I am a U.S. citizen that's tired of seeing our men and women fighting some very sketchy wars and coming home with all kinds of physical and emotional damage. And I'm tired of watching the list of dead soldiers grow, then listening to our elected leaders talk once a year on Memorial Day about how we should honor those who lost their lives while in battle.
Instead, I'd like to hear them speak about how we're bringing our troops home. That would be the best way to celebrate Memorial Day.