Several friends tried to remind us that the reason we observe Memorial Day is to honor those who died fighting to uphold the Constitution. We don’t “celebrate” their deaths–we mourn them. This is not a “happy” day. It’s a somber one.
And looking back, tell me how many wars have we fought since 1776 to uphold the Constitution? The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War? Certainly. But were the rest wars against opponents who threatened our existence? The war we fought in Cuba where Teddy Rosevelt rode his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill? Not really. Did Spain or its allies threaten the existence of the US? What about the Bay of Pigs or the countless other incidents were our troops lost their lives? And not (nearly) all troops who die fall in battle. Disease, suicide, and accidents take far more than battle wounds.
But what about World War I? Some would argue this war would have spread here to the US, Germany might have crossed the Atlantic and tried to overthrow our government. Certainly, World War II was a real threat to the Constitution as it was driven by the evil forces of fascism we see right here in Washington to this day. Sadly, we never really finished that war. We let pockets of fascists, the Nazis, and the white supremacists fester and grow like the rash soldiers picked up in Vietnam. Racism left over from the Civil War is the root cause of many, many of our national issues.
Was the “Police Action” in Korea a fight for our freedom or for other, more economic purposes? Did the North Koreans ever threaten our existence or was this a war to stem the growth of Communism that spread to the Capitol building and the McCarthy hearings? Again, I think this was another of the wars General Eisenhower warned against spurred on by the Military Industrial Complex (as he put it).
Was the very real war in Vietnam to protect the Constitution–our freedom, or to shelter business interests and prop up favorable governments in Southeast Asia? Were we there to fight back the North Vietnamese and Chinese hordes or just their investors? Was it really a fight to the death to protect the Constitution or were our reasons to fight and let our boys die in Vietnam to get the arms dealers a way to sell more guns, bombs, planes, tanks, and equipment? Of course, it becomes clear when you realize they sold weapons to both sides.
And what about the wars since? After 9/11 we soon discovered there were no WMDs in Iraq and the terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers were from Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan–an important customer for these same guns, and bombs, and planes. How many trillions did Haliburton make on the war? And for the last seventeen years, we’ve been in the Mideast putting our men and women (boys and girls, really) in harm’s way. As a result, we’ve managed to create an entire movement of radicalized Moslems. Was the Constitution threatened by the 9/11 attack? Hardly.
Is the Constitution threatened now–as a result of nearly two decades of war? Sure it is–by the men who sit in power and ignore the words printed thereon. Men who look the other way when White Supremacists take political office and march boldly in the streets, rioting and mowing down counter-protesters with their cars. Men who lie, lynch, cheat and corrupt our institutions while systematically dismantling our government–one agency at a time. By men who build up the military budget to feed these same highly-profitable war industries. These are the real threats to the Constitution. The elected men in Congress who do nothing about corruption, deceit, and malfeasance. These are the ones who are threatening the Constitution. Men kneeling at football games are not.
How many men and women have died protesting unconstitutional laws or those who violate the civil (Constitutional) rights of other or their own people? Aren’t they defending the Constitution?
Yes, today is a day to remember the men and women who did their duty to the best of their ability and lost everything. Today is a day to remember those who didn’t come home–no matter what they, we were sent to fight for. Agree with the reason for war or not, they (and I) went anyway. All gave some. Some gave all.