07/01/2016 by syrbal-labrys
For the last week, fireworks noise has made sleeping difficult. So I’ve been too brain-frayed to get myself out to the Labyrinth in timely fashion. I’ve had the name of a young sailor, Petty Officer 2 Andrew Clement, for a week already.
But this morning, once coffee rev’ed my brain to life, out I went. In the distance, a string of fire-crackers popped away. Most war veterans I know are not too crazy about the 4th of July with the noise and the smells.
All the usual laudatory empty things will be said, of course, about the blood of “warriors” keeping fertile the “tree of liberty.” Liberty ain’t a tree, and soldiers are generally not allowed to be warriors. Warriors pick their own battles; soldiers follow orders. I say this AS a former soldier, married to a war veteran and mother and daughter of war veterans.
I caught myself thinking as I recited my “Hail and Farewell” to Petty Officer Clement and poured a liquid oblation upon the stone, it being nigh unto the state holiday, should I have got out the big booze of the Walk — some whiskey or bourbon? But no. The names I’ve read here – Americans and their Coalition “battle buddies” who’ve fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq didn’t die for our freedom, regardless what the speechifying bullshit is going to tell you for the next few days.
They died for idiot policies. They died for/because of stupid officers. They died, oh so many of them — nigh half the deaths — of IEDs. They died for each other. They died for a monthly paycheck and/or schooling benefits. Their blood watered the profit flow of private contracting companies, oil companies, weapons sellers, and undertakers. Not any tree of liberty.
This doesn’t mean they don’t deserve whatever honor we can offer their too-young dead bodies. Not that they hear us, in my bitter and cynical opinion. Life and honors are for the living, if you ask me. Comfort the living for the losses inflicted upon them for liberties that are certainly NOT being won for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. When the fireworks light the night skies, don’t forget the dead – but don’t tell yourself they are winning YOUR liberties. Only YOU can guard those – by voting, by protesting, by paying attention. Perhaps, if more Americans had been doing that in the last few decades, there would be 8000 fewer dead to remember…on Memorial Day and Independence Day?