Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’

Extended sympathies

May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day dream, or pure fantasy? Depends on how many of us share and spread the cooperation meme. Andrew Revkin imagines a time when humans will war no more. Darwin did too:

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.” Descent of Man

A Memorial Day for War’s Fallen, Perhaps Someday for War Itself? – NYTimes.com

Summer out back

May 26, 2012

Moved the glider to Little House’s back porch this morning.

It’s 63 degrees, headed to 95. Everyone will later be complaining about the heat. But not me, I have another cool and restorative dawn in pocket.  And a redneck pool, soon to fill. And Younger Daughter’s birthday party. And the glorious holiday inaugural of summertime.  And nothing much to think, say, or do.

The living is easy. Life is good. Enough said.

Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day

May 30, 2011

Today is Memorial Day. It became a holiday after the Civil War, to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in battle, and after World War I it was extended to honor all United States soldiers who died in any war. It happens to fall this year on May 30, which was the original date for the holiday… Writer’s Almanac

This happens also to be the 18th anniversary date of my marriage. Interesting coincidence. Puts the battlefield analogy in its place. No lives have been lost here, except the ones we might have lived instead. Two very precious lives have been added. Plant a flag, lay a wreath, lament the losses, thank the fates, fire up the grill, slice the pie, and enjoy the parade.

Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open.  ~George Bernard Shaw

A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time.  ~Anne Taylor Fleming

A man marries to have a home, but also because he doesn’t want to be bothered with sex and all that sort of thing.  ~W. Somerset Maugham

Memorial Day

May 31, 2010

It is right that we set aside a day to pause and reflect on the terrible cost of war, in soldiers’ lives, and feel deep gratitude for the willingness of idealistic young men and women to sacrifice themselves for a perceived greater good.

But it is not enough to remember them alone. Civilian casualties in war are inevitable and appalling. The entire human cost of armed aggression around the globe needs a day of remembrance too, and we need to insist on an accounting.

The only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry- in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government. -Justice Potter Stewart

We need to be less stone-blind to the realities of war, less stoical in our acceptance of the “inevitable.” In some ways it’s hard, but in others it’s way too easy to “suck it up and keep on fighting”– as Nancy Sherman says in the new installment of the Times philosophy blog. We undertake “detachment from certain objects so they cannot affect” us, we hold the brutality and de-humanization of war at arms’ length, we idealize noble ends and whitewash despicable means… and we continue the fight.

The U.S. has been carrying on the present fight for nearly a decade now. Why is this not widely rejected as outrageous and intolerable? Could it be that we’re simply not paying attention, most of us? That we’re lacking Justice Stewart’s “informed and critical public opinion?” Do we need to bring back a draft, to re-focus our attention and hone our critical opinion?

But we do love a parade. Happy Memorial Day. Peace.

A day for the peace-makers

May 25, 2009

A CBS report on disfigured veterans yesterday invoked their “divine right to appear human.”

That’s wrong. Gods do not deploy road-side bombs, or dismantle them, or end the wars and secure the peace, or impede our rights, or confer them, or save us from ourselves. Gods do not guarantee our humanity or its appearance.

I am humbled by the profound and ultimate sacrifices of men and women in uniform, and am deeply grateful for their service. Those who die for their country deserve their country’s gratitude. They deserve a holiday and much more.

But those who live for humanity light the way to a world in which no one has to die for the limited vision of pietists and politicians. It is unconscionable to ask someone to be the last to die for a particular mistake, as young John Kerry averred. And it is wrong to require everyone’s collaboration in a misplaced patriotism that glories in every uniformed human sacrifice expended for country, cloaking it in divine sanction, expecting divine favor.

So let us also memorialize and celebrate the peace-makers, the practitioners of non-violence, and those who understand that the preservation of our humanity is ours to keep. They deserve a day too. Happy Memorial Day.peace flag