Please note that this post is not anti-US or anti-servicepeople. Rather it is pro-life and pro-peace. I don't mean to minimize the sacrifice of US soldiers, nor to defame them for the work they have done as servicepeople; but I do take serious issue with this "holiday" (holy day?) for two primary reasons:
1) "History exalts only the pornography of force, that of murderers and psychopaths (the rest of us, of course, stricken from the narrative wholesale, a backdrop to the tale)." -Propagandhi
This is a great quote but let me be clear: I'm not saying that US soldiers are murderers and psychopaths, necessarily; I'm referring to callous institutions that employ soldiers and police to exact great injustice and violence around the world and even here in the US.
2) There are millions upon millions of "others" who have also suffered due to US military aggression and all other kinds of glorified institutional violence. Here is an abbreviated list that grows larger each year, more and more people whose lives and deaths I count and regard this Memorial Day:
Marine Kenneth Chamberlain, murdered in his own home by police in White Plains, NY.
Trayvon Martin, Ramarley Graham, and Alan Bluford.
All other victims of police brutality, aggression, and racism.
And other victims of our twisted and unjust penal system.
Citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US military is *still* actively engaged.
The people of Libya and Syria.
Freedom-seeking people in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain (etc) with whose dictatorial governments we've had happy alliance for decades.
Those who've been killed and tortured by graduates of the School of the Americas.
Others around the world who have been denied democracy by US military intervention.
The Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisoners who were tortured by US servicepeople.
The citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasake who were incinerated by nuclear radiation.
The US soldiers who continue to fight in unpopular and unconstitutional wars.
The people who died on 9/11 as a result of US military blowback.
All other victims of US-CIA-trained Osama Bin Laden.
Osama Bin Laden.
The Native Americans from whom colonial Europeans first stole this land.
The Africans who were brought in shackles to work the land and who were kept in shackles (of some form or another) for 400 years.
The Mexicans from whom we annexed Texas and much of southwest US.
The black folks and college students that were hosed down during 60's protests.
The many men and women who were black-listed and imprisoned during WW1 and Vietnam, simply for their peaceful and principled opposition to US involvement in the war.
People who have objected to military service and have been imprisoned for doing so.
People accused of sedition for following their conscience.
Children ripped to shreds by US landmines in foreign countries.
People affected by US racism, sexism, hetero-sexism, and general xenophobia.
Any US-ian drafted against his or her will to fight a war they did not agree with.
The thousands of US servicepeople who can't get decent medical or psychiatric treatment.
The thousands of the same who live on the streets and can't get a job due to their social, mental, and physical handicaps.
The indigenous people of Central and South America, who continue to suffer for the interests of US corporations and consumers.
Others in developing countries who slave to provide us food and clothes though they can hardly afford to feed or clothe themselves or their families.
The immigrants who desperately leave their home countries seeking refuge in the US only to have their families ripped apart, their mothers and fathers, husbands and wives deported.
And all others who have suffered for our Pax Americana, built on violent and xenophobic US policies, both domestic and foreign.
As you can see, I remember a lot of people.
I pray that you would too.
I dedicate this third annual post to the young girl in this video from 1982. Here's hoping that we're on our way to creating the kind of world she worked for.