Monday, May 30, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Memorial Day

As today is Memorial Day, I have seen consistent reminders to “remember what this day is really all about”.  While it would be probably fair to say that this day is really about an excuse for new car sales, grocery store promotions, and kicking off summer, it is good to remember that some poor guys got killed in various military actions.  Heck, some of those were even justifiable military actions.  The line that gets used often in the media is “those that paid the ultimate sacrifice”.  That’s a great way to kill the mood of any picnic you attend today.  “Hey Frank?  Enjoying that hot dog?  I hope so because there have been tens of thousands that have paid the ultimate sacrifice so you can stand around here in that filthy t-shirt chowing down…”

The other standard line that goes with it is “so we can enjoy our freedoms”.  Americans have this great myopia that makes the majority of the population believe that we are the only ones that have “freedoms”.  This is as if you can’t say what’s on your mind in any other part of the world.  Sure, there’s places like Iran where you get whipped 99 times for going to a party where both men and women are in attendance, but there’s also Western Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, etc. where you can shoot your mouth off all day long.  I’m not saying that this isn’t a great place to live, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that some guy that got blown up in most of our military adventures since 1945 didn’t have much to do with defending our “freedoms” as much as our “economic interests”.  Saying “remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our national economic interests” doesn’t have quite the same pizzazz, does it?  However, I think people have the best of intentions in not forgetting soldiers that got dealt a bad hand. 

It really comes down to what the idea of “freedom” is I suppose.  To me “freedom” is the idea that I can do what I want to do.  Sometimes I feel as if my life is a railroad track in which the direction has been predetermined.  There is a certain momentum to things.  One day as a teenager you decide almost randomly on a path of study and the next you find yourself 25 years in at a job in that field.  You sit next to one person on a train and notice she smells like garlic.  If you had sat on the other seat across the aisle you would have met a woman you would have spent ten amazing years.  Is that random chance or some kind of fate?  Who the hell knows.

Freedom is having options.  The idea that you at least have the option of deciding to travel to sleep in an igloo in Iceland or continue going to your job on any given day is powerful.  The very concept of being able to execute a fundamental change by your choosing is maybe the single biggest factor in piece of mind.  I’m not going to an igloo today, but it’s good to know that I can.  To live in an oppressive society where you can’t do or say what you choose must be a horrible way to live.  Life is unpredictable and much more brief than we like to consider.  I’m sure any of the soldiers that died would concur.  I’m glad I can live like I want to live thanks in part to the actions of these soldiers. 


At May 30, 2016 at 12:53:00 PM EDT , Blogger ChefDave said...

Your style of observational writing usually makes me laugh out loud.
This wasn't funny at all. Shockingly so, that the poignancy moved me to tears on this day rife with juxtaposed themes.
The freedoms we have in the USA are amazing, and the fact that our soldiers are not dying while fighting for the actual survival and safety of the country is often lost.


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