Captain Dye's Blog
These are all the Blogs posted in May, 2009.
Sunday, 17
How About A Little Memory this Memorial Day?
Like a lot of other Americans these days I'm spending too much time pissed off about way too many things. The economy sucks and blows like a big jet engine. America's traditionally robust place in the worldwide auto industry has crumpled like a cheap plastic fender, There's almost as many good people out of work as during the Great Depression and those mobs at job fairs across the nation are beginning to look suspiciously like bread lines. I'm not perceptive enough to fully understand how we got ourselves into this mess but I do know it took a world war to get us out of it the last time our economy swirled this close to the crapper. And that leads me to ponder Memorial Day which, unfortunately, is another thing that pisses me off.
As a veteran, I'm angry that this day will be passed by most of my countrymen with not one thought about the millions of Americans who lost their lives in our nation's wars or undeclared conflicts. As one who has watched men die in combat, I'm upset that we've lost perspective on what Memorial Day means and it's a national disgrace that beggars the crimes committed by the greedheads that engineered the recent economic train wreck. Stay with me on this and you'll see why.
Back in 1868 General John Logan decided his nation had forgotten the fallen on both sides of the bloody Civil War. As national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group of Civil War veterans, he issued a proclamation that eventually led to declaration of a day of remembrance for all our war dead. There's a lot more to the history here, but that's a thumbnail sketch of how we wound up with a red-letter day on our national calendar which was supposed to provide a break from everyday chores and make time to honor those who made the supreme sacrifice to preserve our freedom.
Naturally, being the lazy, self-centered hedonists that many of us are, we've managed to turn that significant day into a combination barbecue, beer-bust, shopping mall safari and three-day weekend fun-fest. Too damn bad the veterans resting under their somber headstones or decomposing, lost and long forgotten on some remote battlefield, can't join in the festivities. Seems to me if anyone deserves a day off with beer, burgers and bargains at the retail outlets, they do. But those folks are dead and dead people really put a damper on parties, with the possible exception of a traditional Irish wake.
Maybe the Irish have it right. Maybe we should turn our backyard barbecues and other Memorial Day celebrations into a wake for all the courageous men and women who died just because their nation asked them to risk it and they believed it was their duty, their obligation and their honor to take the chance of losing it all. That would certainly improve my mood. It would also be a welcome signal that while the people of my polyglot nation may be blissfully ignorant of our commendable military history, they can still understand and appreciate the courage and patriotism it takes to lay down your life for a larger cause.
Naturally, given how tightly most of us are wrapped around the axle and trying to keep the wheels from falling off our personal lives, the moments of remembrance we owe our war dead don't happen except for isolated observances scattered hither and yon across the nation. Efforts of the most patriotic among us have failed to turn Memorial Day into anything much beyond a welcome week when we won't have to face Monday in the workplace. Not that there's anything very patriotic about our Congress these days, but you can blame that august body for the sham Memorial Day has become since they wimped out back in 1971 and passed the National Holiday Act to ensure all government bureaucrats got a three-day weekend. In 1999 wounded World War II vet Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii introduced a bill to restore the original day of observance and correct the national policy that slides the day around the calendar to the last Monday in May. To date, there has been no further action on that bill. And the Veterans of Foreign Wars were right on target in 2002 when they declared the quest for just another day off work "has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
Are you receiving here? Have you got a solid copy on just how low I think we've sunk when the patriotic spirit and ultimate sacrifice of our millions of war dead simply serves to trigger more time on the couch mindlessly absorbing daytime TV that you normally miss while at work? Is the signal strong enough to let you know that failing to recognize their service and sacrifice is not only a national travesty; it's a personal thing that impugns your honor as an American? If you give a damn about that - and you should especially if you've got impressionable kids running around the house this Memorial Day - you need to halt in place for about thirty seconds and think about it.
It's simple. I'm not asking you to toss cold water on the barbecue, pass on the beer or even pause very long in whatever activities you've got scheduled for Memorial Day this year. What I'm asking you to do - and this is in the nature of an order as opposed to a request - is take some time on Memorial Day and say thanks in your own way to the men and women who died in defense of our nation and to preserve the way of life that is - regardless of your personal or professional problems right now - better than anywhere else on earth. I'm telling you to make this Memorial Day what it was meant to be: A time to remember those who made the supreme sacrifice so that the rest of us remain free to live in this great nation.
Notice when I'm talking about these fallen Americans I don't use terms like "gave their lives" and you shouldn't either. That would imply they wanted to die. Believe me when I tell you they didn't want anything of the sort. They wanted to live but they came up short on luck of the draw in combat. They wanted to live freely in a nation that allowed them to do that and offered a chance for success and happiness if they survived and worked hard for it. That promise made taking the chance on dying in combat worth the risk. This Memorial Day - and every day we draw breath in this great nation - we need to remember that. It's so little to ask for so much that was given to us all.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 12:13 PM / Category:General News
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