Memorial Day?

It's sad to say that fallen soldiers are to Memorial Day as the resurrection of Christ is to Easter. The two just don't synch up anymore.

Societally, Memorial Day is about camping and cookouts. It doesn't really have anything to do with military service or fallen troops. Of course it does to those directly impacted by those things -- just as surely some modest handful of Christians out there still refuse to white wash Christmas with the image of a jolly, gift-giving, fat man. But, demographically speaking, veterans and their survivors can't rival the volume of those of us untouched who 'honor their memory' by getting half-naked, building a bonfire, and tapping a keg.

And who's to blame this generation - my generation - for our lack of reverence? The last noble war was fought long before we graced the glimmer of our parent's eyes. Every 'conflict' since has been an exercise in Rich White Colonials v. Poor People Defending their Homes. At least in Vietnam we could honor the men who had no choice; who were drafted and forced into service. We could at least imagine that these young boys didn't really want to go to the other side of the planet and needlessly kill people on Uncle Sam's dime.

But in this post-Vietnam, draft-less era we find it hard to see any reason to hand military servicemen any special honors. "They put their lives on the line..." sure, but for what?

We're all big boys here. We know that the greatest lot of our troops wouldn't have signed up if their Uncle Sam wasn't handing out scholarships like sucking candy. Uncle Sam sure knows it! Otherwise he wouldn't focus his recruiting efforts so heavily in the projects and the ghettos. He'd be sending his recruiters door to door in gated suburban communities, instead of trailer to trailer in mobile home parks. So let's not pretend that the modern American soldier is a noble-hearted patriot, selflessly protecting the nation they hold so dear. Most joined up as way out of the poverty stricken lives their nation placed them into, and most had their fingers crossed that they'd never need to defend anything in actual combat.

But I have some sympathy for - perhaps I can even respect - the man who knowingly sells himself at auction to escape the cycle of debt, poverty, and slavery holding him in a generational vice. Still, I wouldn't give him a day to celebrate it. I wouldn't fain his to be an act of virtuous nobility. I wouldn't want to confuse him; nor let him forget at any time that his service was meant as a means to an end; That becoming a murderer for hire - even out of necessity - is something to be looked back upon with regret, not championed, nor made into a career.

After all, that's what this generation's military is: an army of mercenaries. They don't prevent genocides or overthrow oppressive regimes anymore. They aren't safe-guarding American soil or protecting any uniquely American 'way of life.' It's about the resources. It's about the oil. It's about the money. That's where and why they kill. So we can't really count them as American soldiers. They're NASDAQ soldiers. And that makes them mercenaries.

You can understand, having watched the passed three decades of this American military's operations why my generation might say, "Memorial Day? Crack me open a brew and bring out the Johnsonville Brats!" We just can't find it in ourselves to truly honor this Army; this Goliath we've so often seen wiping the blood of another hundred thousand humble, little Davids, who simply tried - though all too fruitlessly - to protect and preserve their own ways of life, from his giant red-stained hands and forearms.

This modern army comes to the field of battle with laser guided, bunker busting, nuclear armaments; They come with satellite imaged, unmanned aerial reconnaissance; they come in F-16's, Apache Helicopters, and Abrams tanks; with four-thousand round per minute miniguns, M-16s, P-92s, depleted-uranium rounds, and bullet proof body armor. With these things they come to make war upon whom? but the most meager forces; Foes armed with thirty year old weapons and improvised explosives - made from gasoline and cleaning products.

And then they belittle their enemy and dismiss him. They say he is not a soldier because he does not wear a uniform, when surely any uniformed combatant would be killed of the most incredulous means available. He would be simply blown up using missiles or bombs, and by men stationed miles away in air-conditioned RV's, guiding these weapons to their target using XBOX controllers. Or, if forced to meet face to face, perhaps an American would fire 40mm rounds from a turret atop a Hummer, while his enemy fled, only able to return handgun fire before his limbs and body were separated in a bloody cloud of sinew by the disgustingly dishonorable use of such overwhelming force.

Yet all the while the Pentagon's propagandists continue to wage media campaigns that speak to us of honor, discipline, service, and duty. Perhaps it is the blatant contradiction - this unrepentant lie - that has brought my generation to such disregard of Memorial Day and all it's celebratory cousins.

The man who commits a horror, but for what he thinks a good cause, can sometimes be respected still -- that is unless he tries to sell his sins as deeds of heroism. He who will not bear his shame leaves all around him to brunt the weight. And so, perhaps, we cannot lift him up in celebration of the ill-got gains, while still his shameful doings rest upon us.

I can't say as I've ever, in all my life, seen the military do anything to protect or benefit the people of this nation. I'm aware that previous militaries have done so, but I've never seen it with my own eyes. So I'm not saying that we shouldn't honor the sacrifices historically rendered to preserve us, I'm just telling you why we don't anymore. To me; to my age; the military is merely a tool of powerful men to gain and maintain their power. That's all we've ever known it as. And we can little be expected to separate and distinguish the soldiers from the military they comprise.

Patriotism, nobility, honor... We've mostly never seen these either - not in real life anyway - so you'll excuse us as we stack the logs for tonight's bonfire. But I don't believe this military has ever shown my generation anything worth honoring, has it?


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