This Memorial Day

On this day, perhaps I should be thinking about those who laid down their lives in defense of this country, our people, and our ideals. Those who gave all, who made the supreme sacrifice. And I am: but first, I am thinking about those who still live, but who nonetheless gave all, who sacrificed more than anyone should ever have to. I am thinking about those who loved them, as well, their friends, their families; and I am thinking about all that those survivors lost, as well. I am thinking about the unbearable price that all these people paid: and I am wondering if it was worth it.

I think sometimes, for some people, it was.

But other times, it was not. The price was too high, the benefits bought by sacrifice worth too little to justify it. Especially in the wars of the last several decades, the wars of adventure, of conquest; wars carried out for political reasons, and rationalized with lies.

Today, for all of those men and women who fought and suffered, lived and died with their burdens — and for those who live still — I must reiterate my case that the only rational, the only humane, the only justifiable act this country can take is to end all of our wars, to cease all foreign aggression, to step down and eventually eliminate the U.S. military, leaving only a strong national guard to protect against actual threats to our land and our people. Our forces that protect our allies should remain as an obstacle to aggressive acts against other sovereign nations, but the threat and use of force to prevent global conflict should not come from one country: else it is not peacekeeping, but warmongering; not an attempt to protect sovereignty, but an attempt to create an American hegemony — and so it has been for a century. It must stop. We cannot continue to pay for the aggrandizement of our nationalist pride and the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against. The price is too high.

But don’t listen to me: listen to the words of the ones who paid that price, who pay it still.

Last week, the U.S. Army’s Twitter account shared a short video featuring an American soldier explaining what he has gained from his service with the U.S. Army.

And then they asked an open question: How has serving impacted you?

I think they did not expect the responses they got. But they should have. There should be no surprise here. Nobody should know better than the military what cost is borne by veterans and those closest to them. What is perhaps most upsetting about this is the number of these people who suffered at least in part because they did not get help. But what we should pay the most attention to is the fact that this suffering is borne by those we ask to fight for us.

And the one fact that should stand out above all others is this: we must stop asking them to bear it. We must. There is nothing we gain that is worth this.

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

 

I would like to ask you to do something, to honor our lost warriors on this Memorial Day. Go to any of these links — easiest to start with the first one, but they all go to the same place — and read the entire thread. (Click on the bar at the bottom of each tweet, with the blue text link.) Read what all of these soldiers say, what all of their family members and loved ones and friends say, about how the US Army has impacted them. It won’t be easy. But nothing can be as hard as what they went through, and I think the least we can do is listen to them, read their words, and pay attention.

Pay attention.

Pay attention.

Pay attention.

 

 

 

They’re not all bad. Some people who posted are proud of their service, some had positive experiences in the military. But again and again and again, the soldiers and their families talk about misery and pain, neglect and misuse, and death.

It is clear from this thread that veterans need far more help and support than we are providing. If we didn’t already know that. It is clear from this thread that the empty thanks and praise we offer them, calling them heroes, while we ignore their real suffering, is even worse than simply ignoring them would be. If we didn’t already know that. It is clear from this thread that the only right and good thing to do is stop doing this to our own people, our own brothers and sisters, who are willing and able to volunteer, to fight, to do what is right. We must stop taking human beings and turning them into casualties.  We owe it to all of them, past, present, and future.

We must stop.

We must.

My thanks to those who have fought for all our sakes. My grief for all that have suffered.

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