So what are we dedicating in memory today? Fallen fighters, great men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice—and all those whose sacrifice is drawn out over a long life of ‘walking wounded’ through their days—and all soldiers, really, it seems (now that we’ve accepted Post-Trauma-Stress as a disorder, rather than a sign either of cowardice or of a non-battle-related psychosis) we should be laying wreaths at the graves of their innocence and peace of mind, amputated forever from all who see combat, even if they returned to us apparently unscathed by bullets or shrapnel.
And how could they not? Many third-world places ‘live’ in PTSD, their society is arranged around PTSD—as would yours if you had to physically scramble for the bits of food that represent either starvation or survival for your entire family—every day, and hiding from bands of mercenaries (or in some cases, the US military).
We are raised to be civilized in most of our country—with growing areas of unrest due to economic hardship of a depth and duration not seen since the 1930s. Perhaps we are wrong to do so. Perhaps we should raise our kids as the Spartans did, preparing them for war from the moment of their birth. Or we could just enlist recruits from those areas of our nation which see conditions not unlike the third-world.
Whatever we do, it will still be nothing compared to the firefights and kill-zones our children encounter when sent to the Middle East (or elsewhere) as soldiers—if our children fight, all our tenderest, most loving hugs and kisses will be wasted. Worse, we provide them with a past the memory of which is part of the torture of seeing combat—the tremendous contrast, the overwhelming urge to return to the land of the ‘living’, makes their nightmare worse.
Are we to remember the victories they fought and died for? What did we win in Iraq? Nothing worth Americans’ lives and blood. What are we still trying to win in Afghanistan? Our enemy, Bin Laden, was living in the country next door—the war in Afghanistan made it easier to muster up a helicopter night raid into Pakistan to kill Osama. Have we freed the Iraqis and the Afghans? Not really—they have their own way of freeing themselves and we seem to be in the way.
So I think it is just and proper that we remember, on Memorial Day, that our fighting men and women do their duty, same as the Light Brigade, and we should be serious about sending them in harm’s way. They will fight and die and bleed, and they will always win (a real plus, as armies go) whether they are sent on a fool’s errand or in defense of our freedom. So perhaps, more importantly, we should remember the next time we go to war, as we do today, that it is no small thing to send crowds of our best young people into an orgy of violence.
Osama Bin Laden proved this to us—he relied upon our willy-nilly response to the 9/11 debacle to trick us into spending rivers of cash to ‘close the barn door’, if you will. This, with a little help from greedy Americans, caused our economic implosion five years ago. We beat the Soviets the same way (which makes it even more galling) by scaring them into outspending their means on the ‘war-tech race’ that ended the Cold War—and the Soviet Union.
So we look with pride on the heroes in uniform today and yesterday, particularly those who never came home, and we feel the security they provide to this entire country—and we steel ourselves for the future. For only by keeping our military out of questionable conflicts can we solemnize our responsibility to make sure their blood isn’t ever on our own hands.