Monday, May 30, 2011
Memorial Day Again. I've always liked this part of the movie Battleground. Perhaps it is a little hokey, but still it says something to me about what might be, or at some time in the not so distant past, was considered our kind of Shared American Religion. Don't believe it? Drive around the middle American states and look at the county courthouses built at the end of the nineteenth century and tell me that those are not a sort of temple built to a civil religion. Of course, that weird kind of civil religion excluded anybody who wasn't Christian or Jewish (or white), but it was still a big tent. It was also more of a kind of aspiration than a reality, but there you go that is mostly what life is after all.
People get all mushy and talk about the "Heroes" who are "Defending Our Way of Life:" freedom and democracy, don't ya know? It is impossible for most to accept that World War II was the last war we actually fought for some of those ideals (even though our most important ally was the Soviet Union, hardly a bastion of freedom). We have fought for nothing but Empire since WWII, with the possible exception of Korea. We have openly fought more than eight "conflicts" since WWII, including those three we are now involved in. I can't even begin to count our proxy wars and secret wars since the end of WWII.
As far as "heroes" are concerned, by the current definition which defines hero as everybody who ever served in the military I'm a hero. No bloody likely. Although as I get older my younger self becomes more and more heroic in my mind, but then I would guess that includes just about everybody.
So each soldier's death is a personal tragedy for the dead and for the family, but those deaths, all of them since at least 1953 and perhaps since 1945 have done nothing to preserve our or anyones' freedoms. I would like people to know and accept that, but that is a little much to ask, I guess.