Especially for my readers in Africa, I wanted to explain the absence of a normal blog, today. It’s Memorial Day in America, Monday, May 28, 2012.
The holiday is intended to honor the memories of U.S. soldiers who have died in action. It’s similar to the Remembrance Days celebrated in many parts of Africa, and like in South Africa, directed mostly to freedom fighters for independence.
America’s Memorial Day honors all dead soldiers, so in that regards our own revolutionary fighters are to be in our memory as well. But it began as “Decoration Day” right after the Civil War, following a petition by recently freed slaves (mostly who came from Africa) to honor the Union soldiers who had freed them.
After World War I, it was changed to “Memorial Day” and extended as an honor to all soldiers in all conflicts.
As a young boy it was a big red-white-and-blue festival. We decorated our little red wagons and bikes, just as we would hardly a month later for July 4th. And in those days we were remembering mostly the two Great Wars.
Since then my own personal regards for Memorial Day has diminished. The numerous wars my country has begun have mostly been unfair and unjust. And with the end of the draft when I was in university, the military has changed radically. It no longer represents society as a whole.
Today, the military is composed either of young men who can’t get any other kind of job, or who need the benefits once the service is finished, or avowed militarists. We need them both, by the way, but it has drastically altered America’s weapon users, and the military is today more easily manipulated by politicians than it used to be.
I do stop during the day and think of my relatives in the Great Wars. I think of the way the country ultimately came together to fight world tyranny. But in my life time, there is little in America’s wars to be proud of. They are mostly memories I wish we didn’t have.