Monday, May 25, 2009
ANOTHER DAY TO FORGET
It's Memorial Day again. A time for cookouts with hamburgers and hot dogs, parties, the first official kickoff to Summer. A day for ultra-patriotic flag-waving, singing "God Bless America". Yeah.
Actually, it's not about any of those.
OK, what about honoring the troops, praising their sacrifice and heroism? No again.
Memorial Day has nothing to do with the living. Matter of fact, it has nothing to do with the deceased who came home.
Memorial Day has become a day to forget. Forget those who never came back. Forget those who may still languish in some prison. Forget those who died as prisoners of war. Forget those whose remains were never found. Memorial Day has become a day to pretend those men never really existed after all. Instead, we have replaced their memories with parades, cookouts, races, picnics, vacations and self-indulgence.
Memorial Day was first started by Confederate widows (depending on which story you count as authentic will determine which state you think these originated in). Northern occupation authorities knew a smart idea when they saw one, and soon various memorial days sprung up all across the country. By the end of World War II, the fallen of five different wars were being honored and remembered. But in 1951 the memorials took a new, darker meaning.
In 1951 rising hostilities turned into the Korean Conflict. When that ended in 1953 at a stalemate, our government had done something that had been totally unthinkable - allowed countless numbers of men to remain behind enemy lines. Many of these men were listed as MIA - missing in action, presumably captured by the enemy, or were known to be POWs, actual prisoners of war. And they would remain there.
Because we ignored General MacArthur's advice, we once again became involved in a war that our government was determined not to win or lose (although we really did lose that one). As in Korea, we left countless numbers of men behind enemy lines in Vietnam.
For a number of years, many wore bracelets with the names of those men; but now, we forget. Instead of remembering, we choose drunkenness and gluttony. Instead of solemnly reminding those around us, we choose to teach the next generation to be self-absorbed.
Memorial Day, like Independence Day, has become just another national party day, and we could care less about what it is supposed to be.
I will not forget.
I will fly the Black Flag.
I will remember those men who died behind enemy lines. I will remember those who may still remain as prisoners.
I will not forget.
**Addendum: According to many figures, we did leave men behind enemy lines in WW1, WW2 and as recently as the Persian Gulf wars. The following are sites that have been established for those POWs/MIAs - POWMIA.com, the Library of Congress' Vietnam Era POW/MIA Database, the Department of Defense POW/MIA Office, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and the National League of Families of POWs and MIAS.