Memorial day thoughts
June 3, 2012 by Bill
“A chip off the old block” is a popular phrase that can be very significant. My son, William Edelen III, lives in Santa Rosa, CA, retired from the business world, and is now writing short essays. Several have been published in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. He is writing well. The one quoted here is a recent one that I liked very much and thought it should be on my website as a full text. I think you will agree his writing is a “chip off the old block.”
Every year for Memorial day, we all get about 5 to 10 “let’s remember the troops” or “let’s support the troops” or “our hearts go out to them” type of emails that we are encouraged to send to every one in our address book. Concurrent with this, everyone tries to sport a yellow ribbon or “I support the troops” bumper sticker, not to mention the annual very emotional PBS Memorial day tribute to our veterans with 4 or 5 country western singers that dedicate emotional, patriotic songs to how grateful we are for their sacrifice type of theme. And then there are all the Memorial Day Barbecues, with a passing nod to what the day is all about.
It occurs to me that in spite of all of these reminders, geared to appeal to our emotions and the greater instincts of gratitude, 99% of America is still very removed on a personal level from the wars we have fought, the trauma they have brought to the 1% and these gestures, while important, are a very disconnected, sanitized attempt at thinking we are participants in what the 1% have been through, their families with their hearts torn out, and those hundreds of thousands that must now live the rest of their days with disabilities. Then there are the record-breaking numbers of suicides, more veteran’s taking their own lives than those killed in battle - a national shame.
So all of these attempts for the 99% of us to think that on some level we are “helping” feel their grief and “add to their support,” to me represent a superficial, shallow disconnect from what is happening to other people’s sons and daughters, the 1%. I always want to ask the chicken hawks and the great majority of every one else in the comfort of their homes, participating in these gestures and who originally and continually support the wars, “How keen would you still have been on the wars if there had been a WAR TAX on everyone in America? - where you really would have had to participate with your wallet, stepping up and proving that the wars were worth the human sacrifice, trillions of dollars and a real threat to the security of the United States in the first place”! And that you believed in it so much, you were willing to help pay for it. We had a very convenient way of fighting two wars, without paying for them, excluding them from the national budget, and without asking any American, except the 1%, to join in and be a financial part of these misguided ventures. Now the WAR TAX would have been real commitment, a leap above the other shallow gestures we publicly display to show “our support.”
And I would love to ask Mitt Romney, who has been a huge supporter of our wars, why is it that none of his 5 strapping sons felt the need to enlist, or that Mitt who is about my age, didn’t volunteer for Vietnam.
Anyway, just some random thoughts on what is, in my view, still a genuine and authentic disconnect, with shallow gestures, from what real support should have been. Different story for those WW II vets, but not for every war since.