Memorial Day: Empty Prayers for Peace

Another Memorial Day is about to pass in the shadow of war and conflict, as it has more often than not since the first, official Memorial Day.

Flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers still return home:

DOVER, DE – MAY 26: The transfer case of U.S. Marine Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey lies in a transport truck

Veterans with missing limbs, fractured bodies, and PTSD outnumber the dead. 18 Veterans a day commit suicide. 23% of the homeless population in the USA are Veterans.

This is ostensibly a solemn day, a day where we are supposed to remember the fallen and their families.

It is not a day for those on the wrong side of America’s wars, the so-called “collateral damage,” the silent, faceless, nameless, mostly (in the past few decades) Muslim, forgotten victims of the most powerful war machine known to human history.

It is a day to remember our fallen.

It is not a day to question why we invaded Iraq based on a lie. It is not a day to question our continuing presence in Afghanistan and the Afghan-Okinawa we plan to leave there over the objections of Afghans. It is not a day to count the ever increasing (over 1,000) US bases in foreign countries. It is not a day to question the escalating drone warfare in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. that is killing civilians and breeding “resentment.”

Privileged politicians come together to offer platitudes and prayers for the fallen in a display of faux unity. Many haven’t seen war or served in the US Army, and like Dick Cheney did everything in their power to dodge the draft. Our Politician-in-Chief, the ironic Noble “Peace” Prize Award winning President Barack Obama prays in Orwellian-speak,

On Memorial Day, we honor those who have borne conflict’s greatest cost, mourn where the wounds of war are fresh, and pray for a just, lasting peace.

What does a “just, lasting peace” mean? Will it be achieved with “sugary-sweet” words and empty prayers? Is a “just, lasting peace” reached with the continued enhancement of the Military Industrial Complex?

Memorial Day has become like many other national holidays, one in which feigned piety  and American Exceptionalism combine with the crass consumerism of making a quick buck. For most, Memorial Day has become “a made-to-order signal for a pre-summer shopping spree.”

But all of that is not to be talked about, it is a day to remember the fallen.

The soldiers, many from the lower, despised, forgotten rung of society, who joined the Military for economic and educational opportunity and have been used as so much cannon-fodder are to be remembered.

It is not a time to recall the Islamophobic courses teaching soldiers that we are at “War with Islam,” that we may have to employ “Hiroshima” tactics to “defeat Islam.” It is not a time to recall the warnings from soldiers about the Crusader mentality pervading the ranks of the Military.

No, it is a day to remember the fallen.

Prayers and reminders of the old lie, “Dulce et Decorum Est/Pro patria mori,” (It is sweet and meet to die for one’s country) are to be repeated ad nauseum, to justify the violent preservation of the American Empire.

Dulce Et Decorum Est

by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

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