29 May 2006

Remembrance of Things Past

Memorial Day isn't always a pleasant holiday for veterans. Sometimes it brings back memories of trauma, or of stupidity; sometimes the symbolism of the holiday just gets in the way of moving on with one's life.

Part of the problem is the mistaken perception that "peacetime" soldiers don't suffer. That's not to say that there isn't more sacrifice in wartime (on average)… but the operative word in "Cold War" was not "cold", and not all military-related casualties worthy of recognition result from bombs or bullets. Fortunately, this perception is not as poisonous as it was in the late 1970s, when a substantial part of society was still arguing over whether those names inscribed in granite were truly "war veterans." (I found it curious then, and continue to find it disturbing today, that nobody had made the same arguments concerning the "police action" in Korea.)

In any event, one can do far worse than reflect Captain Carter's musings from Iraq. And remember that the military, and most particularly the military dead, seldom choose where and when to place themselve's in harm's way. That burden—and privilege—is reserved for the nonuniformed leadership in this country.

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On a somewhat lighter note, I've had to cancel my barbecue plans for the day. I was going to try a vegetarian barbecue, but the vegetarian crawled out of the marinade overnight and escaped.