NOTE: JACK RANDOM WILL BE INTERVIEWED ON GORILLA RADIO MEMORIAL DAY 5PM PACIFIC TIME. WEBCAST AT http://cfuv.uvic.ca.
MEMORIAL DAY 2005
By Jack Random
It is Memorial Day. It is a time to remember those who have fallen in war. It is a time to pay tribute to the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in duty to country. It is a time to reflect on the absence of so many, on the sorrow and loneliness of those they left behind, and the contributions they might have made in fuller, richer lives.
On this Memorial Day, of all memorial days, it is a time to wonder why.
Today, there will be speeches in every town and city, in parades decorated with stars and stripes, in gatherings of uniformed veterans and the halls of the American Legion, giving praise to the nation’s best and bravest who gave their lives so that we might be free.
Here we must take pause and reflect that rhetoric has meaning and words can be employed to both good and harmful purpose. For too long we have nodded in thoughtless agreement to words that must be questioned for the good of our nation and the betterment of humankind.
It has been a long time since the end of World War II. While few would deny the justification and righteousness of that war, all subsequent military actions are far less clear. The history of intervention from the Cold War era (Korea, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Panama, Columbia, Lebanon, etc.) to the modern anti-terrorism era (Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq) is shrouded in doubt. Even the most loyal and patriotic historian will have difficulty rescuing the narrative of modern American warfare from the moral purgatory that former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara christened the “fog of war.”
Now, on this Memorial Day, as our troops are on the fields of battle in two foreign wars, let us finally take an honest account and a solemn oath that we will never again commit a single soldier to a cause of war that is neither necessary nor justified.
We can no longer place our faith in the leaders of both major parties who accede to war at every calling. If ever there was a clear example of unnecessary and unjustified war, we are currently engaged in it. It is one thing to hold accountable an administration so bent on war it twisted intelligence and tailored facts to its own design, yet what can be said of an opposition party that instantly threw up its hands in unison once the bombs began to rain on Baghdad?
I do not believe that any man or woman, in war or civilian life, dies in vain. People die in vain only when the lessons of their fallen lives are not learned by those who survive them.
The lessons of every soldier lost and wounded in the land of ancient Mesopotamia are that we cannot rule the world by virtue of our might; that we cannot make a cause righteous when it is founded on lies and deceptions; that we cannot right a wrong by continuing the abuse to its bitter end; and that we cannot trust our own government on the critical matter of war.
Let us pay tribute to our fallen soldiers by withdrawing those who have survived, by granting amnesty to those who have abandoned an immoral cause, by dismantling our military bases, by making just reparations and by declaring an end to this modern day crusade.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). HIS CHRONICLES APPEAR ON BUZZLE.COM, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE & OTHER SITES.