29 May 2017

The Last Monday in May

Most Americans think of Memorial Day as the beginning of summer barbecue season, which I suppose is all well and good. Too often they forget that Memorial Day was initially intended to recognize Union veterans. At least the Mayor of New Orleans seems to understand that mere bravery in That Conflict does not justify honoring bravery exerted for dishonorable causes. It's easy to cotton-pick self-aggrandizing (and at times even "honest," if self-deception qualifies as "honest") statements from the 1840s through 1860s that characterize the Second War of American Secession as concerning "state's rights." Of course, it's just as easy to do the same with Rhodesia and the Republic of South Africa in the 1960s through 1980s to characterize their regimes as having a religious foundation, and if we accept the Vatican and Sultanate of Brunei we have to accept that, right?

No. We don't. It has been a century and a half since we amended the Constitution to try to make all persons equal, however much we've screwed up in practice. Mayor Landrieu appears to understand that. Mr Christian — a name with a few historical issues — appears to be too self-centered and confident in his entitlement to even try to do so.

Sometimes it's harder than others to accept — even to understand — what passes for honoring veterans. This Memorial Day I'm adding Mr Meche, Mr Best, and Mr Fletcher to the list of those entitled to that Guinness. "Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" is what soldiers do (and that "empty chair" has a longer and more intense meaning than civilians really comprehend). And they did.