Those Gold Star Moms and wounded veterans are easy to spot. Look for tears or stone blank faces

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d.-miller-mem.-day-b-w smby David Miller

After September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people were killed when murderers attacked the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and crashed a plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Memorial Day has become more of a day to celebrate war, the military, or a call to arms… than it used to be.

It is not a national day to say, “Hurray for the USA” – July 4th is reserved for that. [quote_right]Look for the faces of the
veterans, emotionally scarred for life by war[/quote_right]

When I was growing up, I was a drummer in my high school band. Leading up to Memorial Day, I and fellow drummers, would carefully tune our snare drums… removing the snares, and experimenting with different methods to muffle our drums. We then began practicing the very slow cadence we would play as we led townspeople to the local cemetery on the hill. It was the solemn funeral cadence, as best we could muster, resembling the funeral procession of the slain President Kennedy that we watched on television five months before.

The “parade” ended and speeches and prayers offered to the men and women who had died in past wars, but mostly, prayers for the Gold Star Families – the walking wounded — the moms. Of course also the dads, spouses, brothers and sisters, the grandparents  — left to mourn their un-imaginable loss, alone throughout the other 364 long days of the past year. Except on this one, the last Monday of May, when their friends also came together as a community to be with them and say, quietly, “I am sorry for your tragic loss.”

The mourners then left the public and respectfully decorated the graves of their loved one who died on a distant tragic battlefield. You would know them by their bowed heads over simple cemetery stones decorated with American flags by the moms and wives of the VFW.

The tragedy of our modern Memorial Day is the corporate greed, the disrespect of parading “Memorial Day Sales.” The tragedy of coaches bringing the little athletic teams to be seen in a parade in their colors, throwing candy, but leaving before going to the memorial to hear about the sacrifices made when we later send those same young men and women off to war.

The tragedy of Memorial Day Parades is when it is confused with the Fourth of July Parade. Children shouldn’t be lining the streets only to collect candy, and not taken afterward to the memorial to stand alongside those Gold Star Moms, and the wounded veterans. They can be easy to spot. They are the ones with tears or stone blank faces.

The Memorial Day Parade is not the place to see how much noise one can make on a motorcycle. Choppers only drown the crying. Muffler-less, illegal Harleys cannot raise the dead or replace limbs. The incessant reviving cannot awake those lost inside themselves from a traumatic concussion or anguish. Let them rest in peace – and quiet.

[quote_left]The Gold Star Moms and wounded veterans are never mentioned by name, or given chairs. They seem to be gathered to pay respect to the politicians and their crime of neglect, instead of vice versa.[/quote_left]The tragedy of Memorial Day is a politician and cadre marching down our hometown street saying, “Look at me! Look at me! Vote for Me!”. Many of the same politicians who do little to provide wounded veterans with the care they are tragically denied, leaving the moms and wives alone to be sole caregivers with enormous, burdensome debt and sorrow about the limbs or minds lost.

[quote_right]The tragedy of Memorial Day is when the Gold Star Mothers do not get to sit on a stage that has reserved seating for politicians who stand when introduced by name, and are applauded as if they have done something for a veteran lately[/quote_right]The tragedy of Memorial Day is when the Gold Star Mothers do not get to sit on a stage that has reserved seating for politicians who stand when introduced by name, and are applauded as if they have done something for a veteran lately, other than their crimes of neglect. The Gold Star Moms and wounded veterans are never mentioned by name, or given chairs. They seem to be gathered to pay respect to the politicians, instead of vice versa.

Memorial Day is not a day for honoring veterans, military service or glamorizing war and its machinery. “Veteran’s Day” is on November 11th. Memorial Day is when we recognize the tragic remains of war, its machinery, failed politicians, dictators and despots.

Why, yes, I do moralize, but I do want you to consider it a moral obligation to respect the dead and those who mourn — on this one day of the year set aside for them.

A Memorial Day Parade should be a funeral procession or cortège, leading to memorializing dead soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen/women — and the LIVING left in the wake. It’s a black, dark, day for many. It should be for all of us. If it is not for you personally, please quietly, solemnly, respect those for whom it is.

A Dirge

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1824)

Rough wind, that moanest loud

Grief too sad for song;

Wild wind, when sullen cloud

Knells all the night long;

Sad storm whose tears are vain,

Bare woods, whose branches strain,

Deep caves and dreary main,—

Wail…    for the world’s wrong!



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3 COMMENTS

  1. David, I am very moved by your commentary. This piece should be mandatory reading for America’s school children, many of whom have no understanding of what you have described. I offer the following video which helps to shine a light on the real beneficiaries of America’s modern military-industrial “machine”:

  2. Indeed. Beautifully said, David. Maybe it takes having actually lost a friend or family member to get it.

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