May 28, 2005

Being Patriotic on Memorial Day Requires More Than a Flag

As many Americans are taking time off this extended weekend, there will be plenty of flag waving, patriotic speeches, a few parades, and veterans reminiscing. It's good to be able to take time off--not every American is lucky enough to hit the beach, fire up the barbie, do whatever leisure activity he likes, or just relax. In this wealthy country, there are millions of children going to bed hungry, a catastrophe like 911 occurs every two months--people dying because they cannot afford health care. Our government is taking away civil rights, increasingly invades our privacy, and is tipping the socio-economic scale to the already most affluent & powerful class.

It's good to be patriotic, but not to blindly obey and turn off critical thinking when someone waves the flag and talks big about sacrifices. I want to ask those people who readily wear the flag on their lapels what sacrifices have they made or willing to make in the future. If, as they argue, America's bleeding in Iraq today is necessary, are they ready to go there and fight? Maybe they can send their children to Iraq or Afghanistan. Should their fat corporations (many of which are making huge profits because of the war) contribute to the war expenses by donating 10% of their profits? [that's a good Christian tithing!] How about that they relocate their "headquarters" from off-shore to the U.S. so they can pay their fair share of taxes like the rest of us? How about if they drive a little less and a more fuel-efficient vehicle? Having those magnetic ribbons on their cars doesn't count as supporting the troops!

Many of our troops fighting today are from the National Guard, the Army Reserve, and even regular recruits who have been back-drafted, their tours extended. They cannot return to normal life because of the poor decisions made by those who have sacrificed nothing to the war effort. The National Guard soldiers lose their medical coverage one month after their return home. Many soldiers' families rely on food stamps to survive. Those who serve in Iraq lack proper armor and other equipment for adequate protection. Sacrifice shouldn't be one-way street.

The troops don't belong to the Commander in Chief, but to all of us. That is why before the nation commits its youth, its resources, its blood and tears we need to have an honest discussion of the facts, a clear understanding of the issues, a clear vision for the future, and accept that the pain and sacrifices will be borne by the whole nation. It's not very patriotic to ask only the poor and the disadvantaged, even non-citizens, to fight on behalf of America. It's not patriotic that, through the war, there is a transfer of wealth from the public coffers to private fat corporations, some of which have a fax machine in the ..Bahamas as their headquarters! It's not patriotic not to question the rulers about their decisions. We should call a liar when we see one. It's one thing for our leaders to make a grave mistake, or even believe a lie if they're stupid & gullible, but when they deliberately try to deceive the public, then this is a treasonous crime, because the consequences of such deception are so adverse to the whole nation--except, of course, to the entrenched elites.

So, this Memorial Day let's bypass the big empty speeches that seek to overload the emotional side and divert us from always asking "what was this sacrifice for?" Honoring our veterans with speeches, flags, and medals is good but not good enough. Instead, we should open a national dialogue about how to have fewer war casualties in the future, and how, when necessary, the burden of war is more equitably divided among all members of our American family.

It's time that we don't allow ourselves to be so easily manipulated by hot-button tactics and wedge issue politics. Anyone who thinks himself patriotic should take the time to learn about the history of our country, be well informed of the critical issues of our time, and be an active citizen in the affairs of the nation. This would be truly memorable!


Anonymous said...

Yes, we should elevate the bar when it comes to going to war. Such an important decision cannot be made without the nation being engaged. We had plenty of time to analyze the fact before going to Iraq. Bush and his gang lied to the American people. The Downing Street memo (British gov.) clearly shows that the decision to invade Iraq had been made a year before the war.... all the UN back-and-forth, and the other stuff was a big BS.

Anderson, NY

Anonymous said...

Was Bush so gullible? Inept? Or, did he have a secret agenda in invading Iraq?

Anonymous said...

This country is brain-washed... well, at least a great part of it. I'm not saying it's not good to be patriotic, but it's stupid to believe someone who argues for war and all indications are that he's lying.
It was so evident that Bush wasn't telling the truth, willingly misleading the people about Iraq. OK, they bought his lies. But, what did they do a year later--when it was soooo obvious he lied? They re-elected him! They deserve what they get.... Of course, there is the other 49% that didn't vote for this war monger, but more than that will suffer because of failed policies....


Anonymous said...

There are some circumstances when we have to commit our armed forces to do good, like in the case of Bosnia & Kosovo. We were successful and we stopped genocide there.
We should do the same in Darfur today. Doing good work and saving lives can benefit America in the long run. Being in Iraq unites and envigorates our enemies.

Anonymous said...

We shouldn't fall into the trap some conservatives are setting for us by calling us "traitors"...Supporting the troops and being against the war in Iraq are not opposing values. It's more patriotic to want to save our soldiers' lives by not engaging the country into a stupid war, under false pretenses, and with no clear national gain. It's rather criminal to use our boys and girls so wrecklessly in wars that benefit the interests of the rich.

Susan S. pfc

Anonymous said...

This administration has tried to cut hazzard pay (extra pay for soldiers enganged in war), the death benefit (the amount of money a killed soldier's family gets), has send thousands to Iraq without proper armor and other equipment!
Also, this war was based on falsified evidence. It wasn't sold as liberating Iraq. We've lost almost 1,700 soldiers (and counting), about 13,000 wounded, some invalids for life, and about $200 billion as yet.....
Of course, these costs, as you said, are not born by those who made the decision to go to war but by the rest of society... and our children will have to pay all these bills we're putting on our nation's "credit card!"