Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day, 2006

[Very little has changed since I posted a variation of this article in 2005. Sad, that.]

[image source]

It's Memorial Day again in America -- a day in which we pay our respects to the brave men and women who have died in service to our country. It used to be that if someone died in uniform on America's behalf, we could rest in the knowledge that he or she died for a good cause: freedom. That changed with Viet Nam and has been completely gutted by the Bush administration's unjust war in Iraq.

Nearly 2,500 men and women in uniform have died in Iraq, more than 18,000 have been wounded, and an unreported number of civilian contractors have also been killed. However, some estimates place the number of Iraqi civilian deaths at 250,000 or more (the Washington Post estimated 100,000 in 2004). It's hard to know if any number is accurate since the US military doesn't report civilian deaths, but the "official" count is around 40,000.

Memorial Day is always a somber day for Americans who have lost family members in war. It seems even more somber this year in the face of so many reports of our military treating its prisoners inhumanely and slaughtering innocent civilians. America used to stand for something good, something lofty, an ideal of freedom and human dignity that we were proud to export to the rest of the world. No more.

When did we become the bully on the international scene? How is it that we have become known for our disregard for human rights, for refusing to work with other nations on a common goal, and for a willingness to sacrifice innocent lives in our need to feel safe from terrorists?

My father and grandfather both served in the military (Navy and Marines), and two of my cousins (Marines) never came back from Viet Nam. All four of these men felt it an honor to serve their nation. I wonder how they would feel today if they could see what our military -- what our nation -- has become.

As we pay our respects to Americans who have fallen in battle, let us also remember all the other lives that have been lost to war: the innocent women and children killed in foreign lands, the family members whose lives have been forever altered by their loss, the human beings killed as they fought for something they believed in as strongly as we believe in our goals -- and all who have died in so many battles throughout history.

War is no longer a viable option for solving our problems. On this Memorial Day, let us begin to seek new leaders who will not so willingly and joyfully resort to warfare in pursuit of imperialist goals. Let us today stand together as a force for peace, compassion, and empathy. Let us today resolve that no more lives will be lost on foreign battlefields in wars waged on behalf of madmen.

To all who lost family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or simply fellow citizens in this war -- or any war -- my heart feels your loss, we all feel your loss. Let us strive to create a world where our first response is compassion and not revenge, understanding and not hatred, help and not violence.

It's our world to make of what we will. What do you want your world to be?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments: