Fighting wars is hard. It is appropriate that we set aside one day each year to acknowledge the soldiers who fought our wars.
But the rhetoric of Memorial Day also frequently glorifies war and that is a terrible mistake. War is an unmitigated disaster.
Too many of the young men and women who discover this too late, have been misled by this patriotic rhetoric that glorified war and asserts that ours is a great nation because we can destroy and have destroyed the countries and the population of other nations.
We should refrain from this misguided glorification of violence.
Instead, after recognizing the service of our soldiers, we should also speak at length about the suffering we impose on other nations. UNESCO estimates that half a million Iraqi children died as an effect of US/UN imposed sanctions between the two Gulf Wars. We need to remember the grotesquely disabled children of parents exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war. That war is over for most of us but is still a terrible reality in Vietnam.
Side by side with honoring veterans, Memorial Day should be the day to remember the shame of the leaders that pushed us into these terrible wars; We should turn away in shame from the names of Kennedy, McNamara, and Kissinger. We should loudly proclaim the dishonor of Wolfowitz and Cheney, of Ashcroft, and of Bush.
We should roundly criticize the legislators who are busily appropriating more and more money for weapons because they bring jobs to their districts.
And we should finally ask ourselves how it is possible that our vaunted economic system cannot find work for everyone even though a significant portion of the workforce produces weapons of mass destruction.