Memorial Day

Just a reminder of why today is a holiday. It’s not to barbecue:

Over a million men and women have sacrificed their lives to keep this nation free. Take some time off today to acknowledge the sacrifice they made for you, for me, for everyone. There are children who will never see their fathers again, parents who will never see their children again, parts of families and communities ripped out, never to be replaced.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

-Laurence Binyon, Ode of Remembrance

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  1. repmom

    Excellent post, Hal. Very touching, emotional photos. They say pretty much all that needs to be said on this day.

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  2. Ed Kline

    I have trouble with this. I’m conflicted, and maybe this isn’t the day to talk about it, but I’m going to anyway.
    I don’t feel like anybody died for my freedom in any conflicts in the last 70 years. I’m not really sure they did even in ww1 and ww2. Doesn’t make their sacrifice any less awful for those who cared about them, but it’s difficult for me to be legitimately grateful for something I didn’t ask for, and, in context, question the value of.
    Its not that I don’t appreciate the idea of people who will put their lives on the line to protect our way of life. I do. I truly do, but I also at this point think you should get your head examined if you joined the military in the last 10 years.
    Bottom line  is that I don’t see sacrifice as much as I see lives uselessly wasted.
    Putting you body on the line for your country… well, there is nothing nobler, but  in doing so, you are trusting that those who are in charge of you are competent with and truly cognizant of that responsibility, and I don’t see that as true, and haven’t for a long time.  Yes it’s admirable, but it’s also kind of  stupid. Which is why it’s mostly young people dying. I’m not sure how many people join the military thinking of being potentially sacrificial for something bigger than themselves. I know I didnt. Really, I just wanted to get paid to travel and get away from my parents. If a war had erupted in 1985 and I got killed, you might be wasting your gratitude, especially if it was an avoidable war that didn’t really make a difference on the homefront.
    I’ve always been conflicted about this, and I just don’t have it in me to pretend to feel or think something I don’t. For me, Memorial Day has become more about being aware of the horrible cost of war, the lack of appreciation and value our service people are shown by our supposed leaders, and the needless waste of lives. If the people who run this country really valued our service men and women, we’d utilize them a lot more sparingly.
    What I hate about Memorial Day is the kneejerk, soldier fellating, bullshit,  jingoistic, patriotism of people who never really question why people are being put in harm’s way all while waving a flag and condemning anyone who gives all this more than a cursory thought.
    I can’t help but wonder how may wars we’d have fought in, and how many less soldiers would have died since 1946 if you couldn’t join the military before the age of 35.

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  3. repmom

    Wow. Certainly wasn’t expecting to see anything like Ed’s post when I decided to check back this evening. Curious who liked that, but don’t really need to know.

    Xetrov, I think I’m safe in saying you speak for many of us. Hope so, at least.

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  4. Hal_10000 *

    Ed, we can admire and reverence the fallen even as criticize those who sent them to die.  I think Obama’s decision to go into Libya was a terrible one and I blame his State Department for the debacle of Benghazi. I still honor the two seals who gave their lives saving others and all those who put their lives at risk.

    I would disagree that people haven’t died for our freedom over the last 70 years.  For 45 of those, we were in a Cold War with one of the most evil regimes our race has ever produced, a country whose stated goal was to conquer and enslave us.  Our willingness to fight against them in Vietnam and Korea was an important part of keeping them at bay.  Not to mention those who were killed preparing and training for the massive war that, thankfully, never happened.

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  5. Ed Kline

    Hey  Xetrov, go suck a bag of dicks and be sure to rub a flag on your nipples while you do it.
    Hal, I don’t think you and I are that far apart on this, but I just can’t get worked up over someone getting killed in a training exercise. People die doing their jobs everyday. Soldiers die. So do cabbies, and people who work at night in convenience stores. I do see a distinction, but maybe not with as much resolution as other people do. I had an uncle who was first in line for Vietnam, a real patriot. Young and stupid is how he described himself later.  He made it through and lived into his 60s. There were guys he knew, liked, and lost there, and I think today is for guys like my uncle and those woman in those pictures laying next to graves. For the rest of us who didn’t lose anyone we care about ( and I never have) it’s mostly bullshit pseudo patriotic chest thumping, and what I don’t like is people taking photos of those women and putting them up on twitter telling the rest of us we suck cause we went to the beach today.

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  6. Ed Kline

    Case in point. The picture Xetrov posted of that poor kid at what looks to be his father’s funeral. It doesn’t make me sad. It makes me angry. It makes me angry because whatever war he died in, it probably didn’t need to be fought, and it makes me angry because ( and boy am I going to get shit for this one though I’ll put it as gently as I can) if you have young kids, you shouldn’t be doing dangerous jobs like soldiering. Not fair to the kid.
    When I see those videos of men and women in the armed service coming home and surprising their kids at school or whatever, I don’t get choked up. I just think the only way I’d leave my kids for that long is if we were being invaded, and that those kids are getting a raw deal.

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  7. repmom

    Damn. I was in the middle of typing a long rebuttle to Ed’s second comment when my iPad died. Don’t feel like retyping it all, but will just ask this – if parents with young kids shouldn’t have dangerous jobs in your opinion, does that mean that all policemen, firemen, off shore oil rig workers, etc, should be single? Are you suggesting these men, and women, should be deprived of a family, a family that you obviously enjoy, because of their career choice, their desire to serve and protect others, as well as their families?

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  8. Ed Kline

    Being a policeman isn’t actually all that dangerous at all (statistics win out over popular misconceptions), and the death rates for firemen are pretty low too. But yeah if you’re deep sea fishing off the shores of Alaska, maybe having kids is a bad idea.
    But my point was more about the repeated tours of duty that take these people ( soldiers) away from their children for long stretches at a time. That’s a hardship for the children that they don’t deserve.
    I really don’t understand why you’re asking me those questions. ( and bringing up that I enjoy the ability to have a family as some sort of bullshit indication of hypocrisy). I did not in any way advocate that they should be restricted or not be allowed to have families. That’s your absurd interpretation of my statements, and not something I wrote at all. And my having a family is in no way hypocritical cause I don’t do dangerous shit for a living. When I was in the army I didnt have kids, when I did construction work, I didn’t have kids. I waited till I was older to have kids.
    I think one of the things I resent is this ridiculous notion that people join the military to serve. Most don’t. I didn’t, and most of the guys I knew when i was in didn’t either.  I joined for the travel, the G.I. bill, and to get away form home. I was 17, they had to sign me in. If it was all about the noble idea of serving their country, the military wouldn’t need to advertise, and incentivize ( g.i. bill) service, and incentivize re-upping ( with otherwise undeserved promotions ). So how about we lay off the whole ‘desire to serve and protect others’.   Because it doesn’t apply to most of them.

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