The Last Memorial Day

This is admittedly a very different twist on the traditional Memorial Day article. It is more than a bit Pollyannaish and will probably never come to pass; but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did? Let’s explore.

The true purpose of Memorial Day is for Americans to remember our war dead. This is a nation born of war and we have fought many over the centuries. Some were justified and necessary for the survival of the nation; others less so. For the service member in combat the bullets are just as real and lethal regardless of the justness of the conflict. Their service is just as honorable regardless if it came in a conflict saving the free world or one used to divert from headlines the temporary commander-in-chief found politically disadvantageous. Regardless of rank military personnel follow orders; they don’t cut their own.

I am not a pacifist. I recognize that sometimes wars are necessary. My late father and his generation fought World War II to keep the world safe for democracy. If not for their efforts I probably would never have come into existence (disregarding the biological factor for the purposes of this discussion) and I certainly would never have enjoyed as good a life as I have. I can’t imagine a fascist regime allowing me to write this blog or having been able to choose a college and major. It is doubtful that I would have been able to live in three different states and two different regions of the country of my free will.

My problem is that we have gotten into a lot of unnecessary and unproductive (if not counterproductive) wars. Some of them did nothing for America and some of them protected the business interests of a very few with the sons and daughters of others paying the price including too often the ultimate price.

Today we appear to be inching closer to at least two possible wars that will do nothing to protect America but will sacrifice the lives of young Americans. After well over a decade we still are unable to completely pull out of two Middle East conflicts, albeit in a limited fashion, we have entered a third in Syria and American troops are somewhat covertly involved in many other countries.

With President Trump pulling us out of the Iran Nuclear Deal the likelihood that we end up in a direct armed conflict with Iran has risen exponentially.

I am not going to make any predictions about the possibly summit with North Korea’s Kim Jung-un other than to say that if anyone really thinks we are going to get some sort of magic deal where Kim gives up all his nuclear arms and ambitions in exchange for a Trump promise you should seek the help of a team of mental health professionals. North Korea is a nuclear armed powder keg led by a desperate dictator. The potential for a disastrous armed conflict is very real and extremely dangerous. If a shooting war (even conventional) breaks out on the Korean peninsula there will be massive casualties and many of them will be Americans. At this writing we have approximately 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

Veterans’ Day is with us forever. History teaches us that there will always be a need for a strong military. I’d like to see the day that war dead are so far in the past that Memorial Day fades away. This will not happen in my lifetime or even that of my grandchildren. Even if war stopped today the dead deserve to be remembered for generations. I can only hope for the lifetimes of my grandchildren’s grandchildren.

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