May 30, 2012

It isn't a holiday

I fail to see how we can call it such. The sacrafice is very real even if the reasons are bullshit. Politicians and dictators start the wars and our children pay the price. Using the term "holiday" implies celebration, and this is no time for celebration. This is a time to mourn lives lost and families ripped apart... sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands, wives and friends gone from this planet forever. Only memories left.

"If it is considered a holiday, why is it so? I consider it to be a national day of mourning. This is how we observe this day in our home. Because of what that day represents the rest of the days of the year are our holidays."

-- F L Lloyd -- West Chester, Pa USA -- February 26, 2000

Saturday as I was returning home from the grocery I found myself caught up in a clutch of traffic heading south down the interstate. The small cars and SUV's mostly had TCU stickers on the windows, but a few had UNT or Baylor emblems. They were packed with smiling, laughing young men and women... some already wearing bathing suits. These kids were likely on their way to Padre Island or some such place to celebrate the beginning of summer. This was the beginning of a 3-day weekend, after all.

They seemed oblivious of another group of youngsters that headed to the beaches on June 6, 1944... 68 years and a few thousand miles away. Their dead never came home. Those bodies were interred in 27 war cemeteries across Europe... those that could be found. Nobody knows how many died, but there are over 110,000 graves in these cemeteries.

Please forgive if this saddens me... that our sons and daughters have gone to war and come back in boxes... if they came back at all... and our modern kids head to the beaches and bar-b-cues with little on no care. The gravity of the day is not taught in schools or in our homes. This day is not something to be celebrated. It is something that we should... something that we *must* mourn.

We must also strive to end the need for wars -- to somehow bring humans together rather than endlessly wedging ourselves apart with silly religious or philosophic differences... quests for power and authority over others... dominion.

Until we can figure out how to do this, we will mourn.

In this country Congress hasn't helped to maintain the memory of loss. Changing the date from the original May 30th to the last Monday in May makes it easier to party, but somehow cheapens the intent of the day.

This change in dates was done so these kids could have that 3-day weekend... celebrate the start of the summer season... and it was done at the expense of the memory of those who lost their lives on forgotten battlefields.

For that reason I offer this tribute today, and remind you that this isn’t just a celebration of the coming summer season. It is reminder that we must grieve the loss of human life... indeed the loss of humanity.

There are some who remember.

"In 1999 I laid flowers at the grave of a young U.S. fighter pilot who was KIA in my village in 1945. In the Netherlands I know of schools 'adopting' graves of Allied servicemen, keeping those graves in excellent condition! Does anybody know of adopting graves in the U.S. by schools?

Paul Patist 
Castricum, The Netherlands - Tue May 15 04:50:29 2001"

There are some who remember, and perhaps there are schools here adopting graves, but I do not see it if it is happening. People all over Europe display remembrance and respect for Americans buried on their soil, yet here in the U.S. we head to the beach to get a tan. Remind me some day and I'll tell you my story of a young, French waitress I encountered once while working in the small town of Pau.

I do not accept the necessity of war. It is the most horrible of things... something in which we seem all to anxious to engage... but regardless of philosophy until we can change the world we must honor our family, friends and neighbors who died in service to the ideal of country.

Not just here, but worldwide. America's children are not the only to have died in some unexplained and likely unnecessary conflict. We need to teach our children the day's meaning -- show others by our actions that we will not forget – and never cease in our efforts to bring peace to the planet. By any means possible we must end these seemingly never ending wars.

My favorite cartoonists solemnly take on the role of reminding us the real meaning of the day. Some accept the first Monday date... I do not... but the sentiment remains. All are good, but the first and the last are really all that need be said.



JEG43 said...

When I was young, it was a holiday - and I don't remember when it changed, but it did, and for some years now it has been a day to mourn. And the mourning has begun to scatter itself across my calendar as these useless wars continue and the numbers of our dead mount.
Shame on the warmongers and shame on us for continuing to allow it.

Old NFO said...

Thank you.