Happy (?) Memorial Day

The interrobang is because Memorial Day isn’t really supposed to be a happy day. Today is the day we remember those who have died in the service of our country. This isn’t for those currently serving, that is Armed Forces Day, or the ones who have served and come back, that’s Veteran’s Day. Back when I was a kid Armed Forces Day was like my third favorite holiday because I got to play with tanks and machine guns. In fact there is a picture of me somewhere in the Army Times archive of a 6YO me sitting behind an M60 that I had field stripped and reassembled at Schofield Barracks on AFD. But today we remember those who didn’t come back, and they are numerous. About 57K didn’t come back from Vietnam, my generation’s Big War. And since then we have had the interminable Iraq/Afghanistan conflict that is still consuming men and material, and it looks like we are about to start another meat grinder in Syria. I was born into the military, and I understand the need for war. But I am also smart enough to understand that of the wars we have been involved in since the turn of the century only Afghanistan might, might, have been justified. Everything else was rich men ordering poor men killed in order to make them richer.

But the fact that the war was not a just or justified war does not make the soldiers, sailors, and airmen killed any less dead, or less deserving of honors due those killed in conflict. They didn’t get to make the choice of going to war, but they served and paid the ultimate price. And we must honor those who paid the ultimate price in unjust wars, even more than those who died in just wars. Because they did not die in service to their country, their country killed them for the avarice of already wealthy men. I wonder, when warriors get to their final rewards, do those who died to make wealthy men even more wealthy get different rewards than those who died in noble causes like freeing slaves or preventing world dictatorships? I’m not assuming there is an afterlife, because I have been there and got tossed out sent back with a frequent customer card. I’m just wondering about the differences in accommodations for those who died in different causes.

And I have no doubts about those who died for civil rights having an equal claim on a warrior’s reward in the afterlife. They died fighting for a noble cause even if they died an ignoble death, they get their equivalent to Valhalla. AFAIK they all go to Valhalla and get to “play” for different teams in the mock battles that nobody dies fighting, between feasts. In fact I think those who were killed fighting for civil rights are equally deserving of being honored on this day, even if they were never a part of the Armed Services.

Enjoy your holiday, but remember the etymology of “holiday”, it is a Holy Day even if no religion claims it.

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