sometimes, a mind is a terrible thing to have…

Posted on Sunday 28 May 2006

The left coaster has become my favorite blog. Steve Soto, eriposte, the pessimist – all are writing the "right stuff" these days.  Today, the pessimist asks, What will you do tomorrow to remember America’s war dead? What SHOULD you do?

I commented:

Before I retired, I never took Memorial Day off. I never understood it, after 1963 when I found out a classmate had died in a war in a country I’d never heard of – Viet Nam. Years later, as a Viet Nam "era" veteran [non-combatant, assigned to Europe], I didn’t understand what there was to celebrate. The holiday didn’t fit its stated meaning. How was eating hot dogs and auto racing related to remembering our war dead?

A few years ago, I read an article about parades in Palestine where people carried photographs of young men, "heros" who had become suicide bombers. I was horrified at the tragedy of that. The article said they had people trying to join up all the time. It was hard to read.

Last summer, we were staying in an Atlanta airport motel before catching a very early flight. The motel was full of teenagers. I thought it might be a Band Trip. It wasn’t. The next morning, they were out front loading onto buses, headed for Fort Benning.

On Memorial Day, I feel an uncomfortable sadness. Thanks for the reminder…

The discomfort I was talking about never resolves for me. I feel that the wars in my lifetime have been un-necessary tragedies, and I feel guilty that I didn’t fight in them. I always remember this book on Memorial Day – the definitive book on the Civil War, written by someone who didn’t fight in it. The main character, Henry Fleming, bolts in terror from his first battle. When he gets hit in the head by one of his own fleeing soldiers, his wound is assumed to be from combat [an honorable wound], and he can return to his comrades.

I feel I have no real right to decry wars I didn’t fight in…

see also Requiem for a Nightmare
and this What We Don’t See on TV
and this U.S. Casualties in Iraq: 2464 killed 

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