On Memorial Day we honor those working class people, those brown people and yes those queer people too that we sent off to murder and die in order to protect the interests of the rich.
We wave flags made in China and Indonesia where the people who make them live even more miserable lives than working class American.
We watch war porn and tell ourselves it is history when what it does is stir those who lust for the excitement of violence and the glory of war. Even that which shows the reality or often time hyper reality makes war something fascinating to watch.
Less fascinating is the aftermath. From when I was a child and the old men were WW I vets, bitter about how the government went back on promises of a bonus that would have helped them during the Great Depression. Seeing the broken men, lungs scarred by mustard gas or missing limbs. The World War II vets who drank too much because of the horror they saw. The Vietnam vets, homeless in the streets and dismissed as too weak for their drug and alcohol abuse.
What of our promises to these people?
But far more important why do we ignore the millions upon millions upon millions of civilians killed by all these universal soldiers?
It took Cindy Sheehan who lost her son to George W. Bush’s war lust to finally ask the most important question of all…
What noble cause? What noble cause justifies all this carnage and murder? What noble cause justifies the impoverishment of the poor of all nations to frivolously spend the so much on weapons that create such misery?
There is no noble cause. Only the rape and plunder of others, the murder and theft of resources.
The poor lose in every war. The rich and powerful are always enriched and only rarely join the fray to fight perchance to die.
In the Civil War, deserters from both the Armies of the North and of the South were united under a common slogan, “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.”
For those of us who work in retail the reality of Memorial Day is all too ironic… Memorial Day is a sale’s opportunity wrapped in red, white and blue. We put in 10-12 hour days last week working to nearly dropping to enrich the corporations that exploit our labor.
For most of us there is no paid holiday. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a forced unpaid day off. A day to collapse in fatigue before a return to work on Tuesday.
I won’t attack those who look upon Memorial Day as providing one of those rare opportunities to put three days together during which they can rest and recreate, spend time with friends and family. The corporations that control our lives demand so much from us in exchange for so little have made this personal time so scarce that I admire those who choose not to spend it perpetuating the lie of “honor and sacrifice”.
The best answer, the one that every person of every nation should give when their governments, their rich and powerful call upon them to murder and die for some questionable “noble cause” is the one we chanted during the Vietnam War, “Hell no, We won’t Go!”
War will only end when we refuse to be the universal soldiers.
The real struggle for freedom is not fought in some distant land, killing people who are powerless to harm us. The real struggle for freedom starts at home and should be against those who exploit us, deny us the basic human rights and equality we should be endowed with as our very birth right.
The battle for hearts and minds is not one of guns and violence but rather of words and ideas.