Memorial Day – just a 3 day weekend
May 26, 2014
Memorial Day is the day we think about those close to us who are no longer around. Of course as we age the number gets larger and the fragility of our own mortality becomes more apparent. Then it becomes more personal, more real. Even then, those we think of and remember are few in comparison to the number of those who had great meaning in our lives that we didn’t ever know – those who we should remember on Memorial Day – those who made the ultimate sacrifice – those who lost their lives in wars for independence, freedom, territorial pursuits, political retaliation, exhibitions of power, favors for our corporations operating in other countries, the making of warrior legacies for career politicians, and all of the other reasons that we put our kids in harm’s way after protecting them from harm throughout their growing-up years. These are of course the wars started by the rich and powerful and fought by the poor and powerless.
They talk about the “unknown soldiers.” That term is untrue and unfair. Soldiers were all known. They were known by their loved ones – their spouses, their children, their parents, their friends – they were known by their comrades – they are not “unknown.” No, they are just invisible, like the character in Ralph Ellison’s book. “The Invisible Man.” We see them but we can’t see them. We hear them but we can’t hear them. They are invisible. We see and hear their loved ones but they are invisible too.
Here are some numbers to think about:
Revolutionary War 25,000
War of 1812 15,000
American Civil War 625,000
Mexican-American War 13,000
World War I 116,000
World War II 405,000
Korean War 36,000
Vietnam War 58,000
War on Terror 7,000
Total 1,300,000 deaths, unnecessary deaths, lives destroyed.
Then we can add to the list probably 10 seriously physically injured for every death – 13,000,000. Then we can add to the list probably 10 seriously mentally injured for every death – 13,000,000. Then we can add to the list probably 10 family members affected for each of the above – spouses, children, other relatives whose lives were either damaged or destroyed 13,000,000. Now the number is up to 40,000,000 and that certainly isn’t all. How many are, or will be, affected by the civilizations, cities, towns, railroads, airports, ships, planes, other military equipment and above all, the resources, consumed and destroyed by all of these fruitless events.
Well, of course the thoughts now have become so large that we couldn’t possibly get our minds wrapped around it all.
If you want to get the feeling of it drive by the national cemetery in Los Angeles today, or any other day, and glance at all of the white crosses – acres and acres of them – and this is just one national cemetery. If you want to get the feeling of it stop by any VA hospital and glance around at the injured warriors – some old, some young. If you want to get the feel of it just drive around downtown Los Angeles or Venice Beach or any other major American city and look around. You will see it. You will see the results of the wars started by the rich and powerful and fought by the poor and powerless.
And in order to thank all of these fallen heroes, we throw them a bone, we send them some paltry sum of money, we ignore their families, we ignore their physical and mental damage which makes gainful employment difficult or impossible, we delay medical treatment – in other words we shirk our responsibilities as fellow Americans, as fellow human beings. We just go on with our lives and ignore the “unknown soldiers”, the “invisible” warriors, and the “invisible” people directly and adversely affected by the wars started by the rich and powerful and fought by the poor and powerless.
Think about it!
Think about it today – Memorial Day.