To some people, Memorial Day means the start of summer. It means a day at the beach, barbecues, a trip to the mall or any of a dozen other events families plan. It means a day off from work, maybe some fishing or just some quality hammock time.
Memorial Day is certainly about all of those things. It’s also about one other thing. It’s a day we put aside as a nation to honor and respect those that have sacrificed all to keep this country free and safe. It doesn’t matter that sometimes that threat to safety and freedom was just made up by money-hungry businessmen. Our sons and daughters still paid the ultimate price.
Yeah, I know I’ll catch hell for saying that but I really don’t care. If anybody thinks the Viet Nam war was about anything but making money for a select few, or that any conflict in the Middle East is about anything other than making more money is delusional. Listen, I love this country, but that doesn’t mean I have to walk around with a flagpole stuck up my ass and the banner draped over my eyes.
Patriotism, like religion is fine in itself, but in the minds and hands of the extremists, the fanatical, it becomes very dangerous. There are people that think war is necessary to keep other countries in line. Don’t laugh, there are. Except we don’t win wars anymore. Certainly not like we won WW2…when you saw the defeated leaders signing documents and being humble.
But they still shout out that war is good, that we kicked ass over there and that we stopped the threat to our freedom. They glorify war, making it sound like every mother’s child should bang at the door until they’re let out to play in it. I write about war in my books. Every story is about a great war building or happening. But my books are fantasy. And yet, even in them, I try to keep the fact that war is good relegated to the very real bullshit column of life.
So just remember, while you lie on that beach and rock that tan, men died while running to the beach from troop transports in France. Men died while running from helicopters in some god-forsaken Asian jungle. Men died when bombs exploded under their vehicles near towns surrounded by sands.
Memorial Day is the day we remember these people. We honor them and say a silent prayer for them and their families. We pause for a moment to look at the flag and think not of what it stands for, but the men and women that died defending it.
It’s not just sun-tan oil and Sweet Baby Ray’s Sauce.