I find this holiday of Memorial Day to be quite interesting from historical to modern context. Usually, since I was a kid in cub scouts, I walked in our small town’s memorial day parade. I participated in the wreath ceremony at our big cemetery. Then my family would go home and have a classic American BBQ. I only know of one veteran in my family, my mother’s father. Unfortunately, he never met me because of his refusal to go to the doctor with skin cancer. His name was Paul Chase. He married my grandma who is still alive, in the late 1940s after the war. They ended up having three children, their first and only daughter was my mother. My grandfather was in military during World War 2, I don’t know much about his actual combat experience if he had any. But I know he was a military police or MP. He was also an avid baseball player, a catcher. From what I’ve been told, I have his some of his personality. My grandfather died of skin cancer in 1985 and is buried in a cemetery only a mile from my house.
This accounts for the most of the significance that I put on memorial day. However, being a history buff and knowing how many wars the US has fought. Its strange to think to that we would celebrate such a sad and sometimes tragic event like war deaths. On the other hand, its not strange in history to see civilizations honor their fallen heroes of war. War is a spectacle like none other. It has evolved over hundreds of years. It has killed unknown billions. Yet here in America we celebrate the soldiers that are dead and alive, that have fought our wars. America’s intentions have not always been pure or even moral. We have waged wars to pursue world power. We have waged them to pursue economic dominance. Presidents have tricked the American people into sending their boys into war on multiple occasions. So what is the point of celebrating this off-color history of war? More importantly why do we BBQ and say “Happy” memorial day?
Memorial Day like other holidays are federally mandated by the government. Usually when the government approves a holiday it means all federal offices are closed. It also means that kids have the day from school, businesses sometimes close too. My point that I’m trying to make is are we celebrating the individuals give some or gave everything for their country? Or are we celebrating the fact that war has made our soldiers heroic despite the reason for sending them there? Regardless of the answer to a question that can’t be answered, I believe Memorial Day has turned into kind of sham. I never understood the whole BBQ thing because that’s irrelevant to war and soldiers alike! Along with that, I don’t the find the holiday to be particularly happy? Many people say “Happy Memorial Day” like Merry Christmas. Memorial Day is more of a solemn reflection on the soldiers who maintain our way of life or our freedoms. (If freedoms still exist?) I am for one not very happy that over 5000 soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. What did they die for, besides some stupid extreme religious nuts and some oil? The war has been more dangerous than ever and they had to give up their lives. That’s not fair to them.
Although I find nothing wrong with BBQ or the patriotism that comes out of Memorial Day. I just think that people should take it a little more seriously. In addition to that, we should be thanking our soldiers everyday for their service because they protect us even if its for the wrong reasons. Every day should be Memorial Day. I know that its a cliched argument. However, its clear that war heroes are very important, given that we have yet another under appreciated holiday called Veterans Day. Even worse than memorial day it represents a day off for 80 percent of people. I am under the belief that memorial day also encompasses those soldiers who are still living. The lucky ones who live through war, tend to have a lot of health problems. Its clear that the Veteran Affairs sections of the government is ill-equipped to give veterans what they need. The lack of fast service healthcare is even more a slap face to living veterans. Its just underlines the fact that a government run healthcare system would absolutely suck.
Without mentioning specific politicians, I just want to say that the mishandling of the VA hospitals and operations is appalling. Instead of Memorial Day being happy or about BBQs maybe we should be focusing on the real issues that face our veterans. I know that culture is a hard thing to change. My rantings probably won’t change anything. But I think on an individual level if we start respecting Memorial Day as a day of solemn reflection then it would be an more effective holiday. In addition, we need to recognize and fix problems that Veterans may face in healthcare and other things. I think one solution would be to get government out of the VA. Make it a privately run, charity donation based service. Have actual Veterans run and operate it so no scumbag outsider can steal money or fuck them over. There are enough veteran charities to help fund such an operation. If not, then the government can donate some money too, no strings attached.
Next Memorial Day, before we BBQ and get drunk and talk politics, lets try to remember the sacrifice that our soldiers have given to maintain America’s unique freedoms held in our constitution. Let’s also remember that war is not something happy, its pure hell. War is unnecessary till all other action is useless. If you are a veteran or current soldier reading this then hopefully you will be treated better than soldier’s past. There really is not words to say how much I have personally gained from and appreciated your efforts. Thank you.
Thanks for reading!