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 in service to the country; 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)."
This is a great quote by Canadian punk band Propagandhi. In quoting them, I'm not suggesting that US soldiers are necessarily murderers and psychopaths; but I refer to callous institutions that employ often poor and desperate citizens as soldiers and police to exact great injustice and violence around the world and even here in the US, at the behest of the rich and powerful.
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:
- Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Anthony Hill, Freddie Gray, and so many other unarmed black men killed by police; these lives matter!
- Tanisha Anderson, Miriam Carey, Rekia Boyd, and so many other young black women whose lives mattered so much they deserved their own bullet point! #SayHerName
- Clayton Lockett.
- And all other victims of our morally depraved penal system.
- Jose Guerena, a US marine who was excessively shot and killed while unwittingly defending his home from an illegal and unwarranted invasion by a Tucson, AZ SWAT team.
- Max, the Rottweiler brutally shot and killed by Hawthorne, CA police after they detained the dog's unarmed and totally compliant owner for no good reason.
- Kelly Thomas.
- And all who are homeless against their will (let's bear in mind this Memorial Day that many of our yet living vets are homeless - about 12% of the total adult homeless population).
- And all other victims of police brutality, aggression, and racism.
- Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, Anonymous, and all others who are deemed criminals after exposing the lies, injustices, and betrayals of the institutions supposedly charged with serving and protecting us.
- More than 1,700 indigenous Ixil Mayans targeted for genocidal extermination under SOA-trained Guatemalan ex-president Efraín Ríos Montt.
- Targets of US drones missiles in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen and the countless innocent casualties that are too often hit instead.
- Kimani Gray.
- 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.
- Troy Davis.
- And other victims of our twisted and unjust penal system.
- Citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The people of Libya and Syria.
- Freedom-seeking people in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain (etc) with whose dictatorial governments we 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.
- US soldiers who've fought 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 the southwest US.
- The black folks and college students that were hosed down during 1960'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.
- Victims of the Oklahoma City bombings, killed by military-trained Timothy Mcveigh.
- Timothy Mcveigh.
- 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.