In these modern days of doorbuster sales events, sometimes it’s hard to remember that Memorial Day actually serves an important purpose in the year of the American. The percentage of total population serving in current wars is down to .5% present day, so being alienated from the culture of injury, loss and longing is easy for many people. Many of us forget that living among us are war veterans who will never receive adequate compensation and care for the emotional and physical injuries they’ve endured.
All we have is our time and our good intentions (since our coffers are bone dry these days), and as the people of our small, Maine hometown came out of the woodwork almost instantaneously this morning for the Memorial Day parade, we listened to the orator of the morning implore civilians to give service in the spirit of those .5% currently serving, or those who have served before, if not for anything but simply the life changing events they have witnessed and taken part in.
We can only hope, then, that our leaders are taking care to keep our men and women safe from harm unless all possible alleys of diplomacy have been tried first. We can only hope that consumption and greed as a cultural phenomenon of epic proportions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries do not guide elected officials’ wartime whims. We can only hope that we wouldn’t send our flesh and blood, America’s young minds, across the globe to be wasted on a battlefield in efforts to secure crude resources that, ultimately, have a limited stock.
These hopes may be dashed somewhat easily in a world where water is a sellable commodity, where the last truly justifiable war happened over 50 years ago. If we ask our soldiers and sailors to make the ultimate sacrifice for us, shouldn’t it be for a just cause and not a staggering, aim-anywhere strike against an adjective or a noun like ‘terror’ or ‘drugs’?
A craft blog, as this probably must mostly look like, is not usually a place for these types of reflections. But today, looking out over the Memorial Green, dotted with the 50 waving flags (and counting) donated by families of service people killed in action, there really is no place that isn’t appropriate to give our thanks to those who deserve them, and our most severe scrutiny to those in power who wield the fates of men.