"My greatest fear is that our soldiers, dead and buried, receive only a fleeting remembrance, effectively bastardizing their ultimate sacrifice."
Part of the problem, perhaps, is that we look at Memorial Day as a time when people take flowers to graves, or the President gives speeches. But, it's more than that. It's more than saying "Thank you" to those who can no longer hear us. It is the day we allow the wars, the deaths, the horrors of war to return and be relived. On Memorial Day we stand at epochal break, and all the lives given for the United States stand with us, telling us, if only we listen hard enough, of the horrors and pain experienced.
So, today, we move forward, and while I would like to think we "will not forget" those souls lost, I cannot be so optimistic. All too often we commemorate that which we wish we could forget. We wish we could forget the decisions, the economic greed, or the vitriol that lead to soldier's deaths. We wish we could forget the innocent lives we have killed, families wrecked, or brains dissolved. Yet we cannot.
Instead, we create a "holiday" once a year so that we can pay our dues––24 hours. That's it. Twenty-four hours for worlds of pain powerful enough to crumple generations. If we want to remember those that have died, those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, we need to change the way those that survive receive after-service care. In their bodies, in the soldiers that live today, they carry the stories of soldiers long past.
While I understand that soldiers today choose to enter the military, soldiers of generations before did not have that luxury. Theirs was a reality of conscription, one that sent them, willing or not, into harm's way. Though we no longer conscript a military, we do have a national mentality that seems all too eager to engage military action. Wars are not paid only with budgets, and they are not finished once the last soldier leaves. We live with war for generations. Until we can understand that Memorial Day reminds us that war lives with us, we will forever march into the next country, drop the next bomb, and risk the next soldier's life.
In the end, however, I can never know or experience the life of a soldier, and even one that has experienced war. I am a civilian that sits comfortably writing this article on a MacBook Pro. Work demands to be done in all areas of life regardless of our political affiliation. My greatest fear is that our soldiers, dead and buried, receive only a fleeting remembrance, effectively bastardizing their ultimate sacrifice.