Memorial Day: Can we conjure the fallen to inform our future?

Sirens & Gavels; Spokane S-R

Bloggers typically get to pick and choose which mile markers and civic events in the real world they are inclined to acknowledge.

Yet for the holiday set aside to remember those who offered up their lives in desperate efforts that we all might democratically scribble and scheme in pursuit of civic changes, bliss or even vengeance, there is no option:

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude, — the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith. (Gen. John A. Logan, 1868)

In recent months we have had occasion to recall wounds still fresh and be roused by passions terribly heated. It is uncomfortable to contemplate the dissonant implications of living in a democratic nation with a large standing army active around the world foiling innumerable determined adversaries so bitterly resentful of our history.

As we attempt to cope and to grow as a nation, let us all throughout remember our fallen soldiers of each era, and attempt to conjure how they would now wish their lives and missions be remembered.

MORE: American Legacy Publishing

6 thoughts on “Memorial Day: Can we conjure the fallen to inform our future?

  1. Helen Gerhardt

    Forgive the brevity of the response; other obligations prevent me from answering with the length due the seriousness of the sentiments expressed.

    As a veteran of the Iraq War, today I will mourn the many thousands of U.S. soldiers sent to fight, kill and be grievously wounded for the enormous private profit of a small, multinational elite bound by no democratic law or rational considerations of any nation's well-being.

    I will mourn for the many hundreds of thousands of civilians who did us no harm in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Guantanamo Bay and Bagram and black prisons across the globe, all of the men, women and children, that we have thieved, starved, murdered, and tortured.

    I will grieve the men, women and children that have been deprived of the basic necessities of life and of their chances to contribute their talents and efforts to our communities because so many billions were spent to enrich private merchants of death, cruelty, and suffering.

  2. Bram Reichbaum

    So long as you spruce up the final resting place of any dead American soldier while you're at it, that's fine.

    They don't always ask for this crud: occupying Iraq after 9-11, or dealing with having toppled Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran.

    But I still find it comforting to know we can take out a Hilter or a Hirohtio, or even a Confederacy. And don't see a way forward but to progressively (slowly, deliberately) wind back the many symptoms of the Bolsheviks' deranged failures to be progressive and the ensuing Cold War.

  3. Helen Gerhardt

    Yes, I would in fact argue that most of the time soldiers don't ask for the crud. You lost me on the last sentence – not disagreeing, just didn't understand it.

  4. Vannevar

    Edited to add: This falls within the context of how much I respect The Comet.

    Usually, generally, most of the time, non-vets can not effectively invoke the memory of our honored dead, or conjure their essence for rhetorical purpose, without getting it wrong.

    See also: Men and childbirth. It's not a character flaw.

    This one-hitch enlisted thinks the best thing we could do to honor the memory of our honored dead is stop making more of them.

  5. Helen Gerhardt

    I had too much of a knee-jerk reaction to Bram's post, was too ready to believe that the military was being glorified or romanticized, but upon careful re-reading and consideration of the various links he included, I'm really impressed with just how carefully judicious he was.

    My main remaining point of disagreement with Bram – I don't think soldiers and mercenary contractors are doing much foiling of adversaries, but, by making ever more dead civilians, are producing ever more motivations for revenge.

    Van, big yes to your last paragraph.


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