Duff: On Memorial Day, let’s not bask in the same old obedience to the hypocrisy of war (column)
May 17, 2018
Editor's note: Find a cited version of this column at http://www.vaildaily.com.
Memorial Day will be celebrated by the usual high-speed trips to the lake and our lake homes and with displays of flags and the sounds of bugles and drums and by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.
It will be celebrated by the corporate oligarchies, which make guns, bombs and bullets, fighter planes and drones, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military armaments, which hope to cravenly capitalize on the more than $700 billion in annual military contracts that have been approved by Congress and President Donald Trump.
In other words, Memorial Day will be celebrated by the annual ritual of the betrayal of our war dead. Memorial Day represents the annual apogee of the hypocritical patriotism of our politicians and corporations, as they prepare for more war, more graves and white crosses to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days.
The memory of our war dead, like our father, a highly decorated war hero of World War II, deserve a better dedication. They deserve a dedication to peace and a defiance to governments that make war.
Politicians who voted funds for war, business contractors and lobbyists for the military, generals who ordered young men into war, the FBI men who spied on anti-war activists, should be banned from attending all public ceremonies on this sacred day. The dead of our past wars must be honored, and let us pledge ourselves, in their memory, to demand no more war.
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Let us honor, on Memorial Day, John Dos Passos, who argued against war in his angry novel "1919." Let us honor Thoreau, who went to jail for refusing to pay a poll tax, feeling it would be used to pay for the Mexican American War, which he opposed.
Let us honor Mark Twain, who argued against our war with the Filipinos at the turn of the 20th century. Let us honor I.F. Stone, who all alone among newspaper editors exposed the fraud and brutality of the Korean War. Let us honor Martin Luther King Jr., who protested bravely and vigorously and righteously against the Vietnam War.
Let us honor Congresswoman Barbara Lee, of California, who was the only representative in Congress to vote no for the war resolution, three days after 9/11. Let us honor the memory of Paul Wellstone, who was the only Senator running for reelection to vote no on the Iraq War on Oct. 11, 2002. Two weeks later, he was dead.
Let us, on this and all Memorial Days, put flowers on the graves of our fathers, grandfathers and sons and then destroy the weapons of death that endanger us and waste our resources and now even threaten and kill our children and grandchildren.
On Memorial Day, we must rage against our country that spends in the name of "defense," nearly a trillion dollars a year on military weaponry, yet won't even think about providing universal health care, a living wage and social justice. Those in power say we must not deplete our defenses. Yet, those in power have unconscionably depleted our livelihood and depleted our youth, as they have consistently stolen our precious resources and applied them to war.
Let us on this Memorial Day not bask in the same old stupefied celebrations and obedience to the hypocrisy of war.
Tim Duff is a resident of Vail and Tonka Bay, Minnesota.