Memorial Day: Mourning, not Celebrating
It seems that memorial day takes on a new and greater meaning for me every year.
When I was a child, it was just another holiday to me. As a teenager, it became essentially a day to become infatuated with soldiers and to dream of one day becoming a soldier, a marine in particular. Due to some injuries in high school, enlisting became unobtainable. Once I hit my 20′s though, my entire perspective began to radically change.
I was just entering my teenage years at the time, but I supported the US invading Afghanistan and Iraq. I wholly believed that it was our duty to stretch across the world with our military in order to make it a safe place, that the rest of the world should be thankful for what we endure on their behalf. Looking back I now realize the absurdity of these beliefs, but at the time they felt so right.
When I think about why I held these beliefs I can only conclude that it is because of the people I associated with. When everyone is yelling the same things, it just seems like there’s no room for a second opinion. Once I got tired of the echo chamber, as things didn’t seem to be adding up, I sought out new opinions. I suppose that I have the Republican Party to thank for this.
It was at this point that I really started to look back on the history of the United States foreign policy and began to realize that our military presence throughout the world was causing much more harm than any good that it could be doing, whether it be through blow-back or the overthrow of regimes which lead to even worse situations, for example Iran. It was also during this time that I realized that the Iraq war should have never happened as it was based on lies, and that anyone in Afghanistan that was connected to 9/11 could have been taken out without having invaded.
What I essentially realized was that most wars throughout the history of the US have been fought due to greed and political agenda, not for the preservation of life and liberty.
“But Memorial Day isn’t about the wars that were fought and the reasons why, it’s about honoring our veterans who sacrificed for this country” many would say.
I definitely think that we should mourn for these soldiers and never forget them, this I believe we can all agree on. However what we should not be doing is celebrating the idea of being a soldier, that it is some how glorious, that all soldiers are heroes and have fought to protect our freedoms. Looking back on the history of US military policy, it’s easy to see that relatively little has been done by the military to fight for our freedoms, and that not all soldiers are good people. We must be mournful for this, and NEVER forget, lest we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.
One thing I find odd is that many demand that we be grateful for the service of our veterans. Much like people believe that the rest of the world should be grateful for what the US does militarily, it really makes little sense. Many people go into the military not knowing what lies ahead, that they are essentially being used not for good, but for needless destruction. I’m grateful for those who went into the military with the preservation of liberty in mind, and then realized that the best thing they could do was not re-enlist. I mourn for those who either didn’t get the chance to figure it out, and or still haven’t figured it out. Mourn for those who have forever had their lives altered through injury and death when it wasn’t necessary for it to happen to begin with.
People say that the politics of it all should be kept out of Memorial Day, however I can’t think of a better day to talk about the severe problems with our military adventurism and culture. It is all interconnected and we would be doing a disservice to our family and friends who served by not speaking out against the atrocities committed by the US government and the military that it uses.
By: Stephen Carter
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