Memorial Day…

May 25, 2008
(copyright ) 
By Tony Walther
It’s confusing because there is more than one day that celebrates the contributions of veterans, but this is Memorial Day, which specifically honors those who have sacrificed their lives in all of our wars.
Fortunately for my family, each of the three sons has served in the military, but each of us is alive. Dad missed World War I because he was too young, and World War II because he was too old by that day’s standards. But he was a cadet in high school. You should see the photo of him and his brother in their campaign hats and those ballooned trousers.
My oldest brother put in 20 years in the Navy. I joined the Army, serving something over three years altogether. My other brother was nabbed by Uncle Sam between college and law school and did a tour in Vietnam with the Army.
But this day is to honor those who did not return.
We’re flying a flag we purchased the other day. Put it up right away, and I think we’ll keep it up. Don’t need a holiday as an excuse to fly it.
I always say I don’t follow a standard political ideology, but anyone who knows me realizes that I tend to be progressive (the neocons would call me liberal, liberal, liberal) .
No, usually I’m no flag waver. And isn’t there a saying: “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”?
On the other hand, I have no use for flag burning or desecration of any kind. I see nothing good coming out of that. I would not forsake my country or dishonor it for anything. I may think that others, some politicians for instance, do, but I’m not going to stoop to their level to make a point.
And why do people sacrifice their lives for their country? Sometimes they may be just accidental heroes. I mean no disrespect there. Some just feel that strongly. They have a sense of duty. Some were forced into the situation. Remember, we used to have the draft.
In the end, it makes no difference. Dead is dead. Maybe they took one of our spots, so we could live.
If you’ve read my columns you know that I do not exactly support the war over in the Middle East. I have said, though, that if we must fight it, then we owe it to ourselves and our troops to go full out, win it and get out.
While I wholeheartedly believe in supporting our troops, I find the slogan “support our troops” to be mindless jingoism. It is a rhetorical device to make someone who does not support a war policy to have to commit to supporting it, because if one doesn’t, then one must be not in support of the troops in battle. And that would be shameful.
Well, Mr. and Mrs. Bumper Sticker, I do support our troops and think they need the supplies, the armor, and top medical and education benefits. I also think the policy that sends them where they are is a totally different matter. So if I were to say, for instance, that I am against the war, I could still rightfully proclaim to be in support of the troops. But you wouldn’t buy that. But I can, perhaps, think more complex thoughts than you, Mr. And Mrs. Bumper Sticker.
However, there is no complexity to my unwavering reverence to all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to their country. They were not allowed to decide the whys, they just performed the duty that was thrust upon them. Even those in our current all-volunteer military are doing simply what they are obligated to do. Someone has to fill the ranks. To all I say: Thank You!