Remembering the Victims of Empire
This year I am commemorating Memorial Day differently than in previous years. I have not observed the holiday formally at all for the last several years, feeling that it is inappropriate to grant recognition to the State’s self-serving day of sham pity for those who have fallen in its quest for empire. However, I believe that this year merits a statement.
The United States flag, that once-proud symbol of true liberty that now serves as a symbol for murderous global imperialism, now hangs outside my front door, upside down, as a sign of the distress our republic is suffering, and with black ribbon tied to the mast head, a proxy for flying the flag at half staff in mourning for those lives so needlessly wasted over the last century and a half in wars of imperial conquest and political duplicity. My wife is unaware of my having displayed the flag in this manner and would certainly not approve. However, it is past time for us to stop blindly towing the line our imperial masters have been dictating, time to stop lending emotional support to the faux patriotism that is a mask for our rapidly deteriorating nation. No one has yet knocked on my door to chastise me for the way in which I display the flag. Frankly, I doubt anyone in this neighborhood will notice that I am flying a flag at all. Still, if anyone should happen to notice and decide to engage me in a self-righteous lecture on patriotism, I am well prepared to respond.
Originally called “Decoration Day”, what is now Memorial Day was first observed in the years after the War of Northern Aggression by citizens of the southern states. The original name for the holiday was taken from the custom of decorating the graves of the fallen warriors with flowers or military insignia in honors of the sacrifices made by deceased. It is very telling that the first observations of the holiday were by the families of those who truly had sacrificed their lives in defense of a noble cause, defending their home states and communities against the unprovoked aggression of federal mercenaries acting on orders of a dictator in Washington. Sadly, the holiday was co-opted over the years by other parts of the nation, particularly those whose fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers were avid participants in the rape, plunder, and destruction of the southern states, who fought for nothing more than the federalist vision of the founders. Once the United States government granted the holiday official recognition, it was not long before it morphed into what all State-sanction holidays become, not a day of remembrance, but a day of celebration, a holiday from work for those in service to the State.
This is what it remains today. An excuse for a day off from work, thinly clad as a day of national mourning. True, the occupant of the imperial palace at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue makes a public appearance to deliver a platitudinous speech about the sacrifices of those in imperial service, a speech the contents of which he has not written, focusing on something he has not even remotely experienced (war and the death of a close friend in combat), the event usually taking place at the national burial ground on the Potomac that houses thousands of victims of the various national conquest campaigns.
Yet once the platitudinous speech has ended, the trumpets blown in a pro forma rendition of “taps” and the black bunting and flags taken down, it’s back to business as usual. Politicians and generals plan the next big military campaign in an occupied portion of the globe against civilians wanting nothing more than to be free of the empire. Ordinary Amoricons, most of whom have no friends or relatives wearing the imperial uniform and deployed in harm’s way, get on with their barbecues, trips to the beach or the mall, and grumble at having only one day off with which to party. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, some of whom relish the adventure of combat in service to the empire, many others of whom simply wish they were back home living their lives in peace, continue to stand watch in dangerous parts of the world, unappreciative of the fact that their service, and potential sacrifice of the ultimate, is to essential further enriching the establishment and spreading the boundaries of the empire. If they are wounded or killed in making this happen, so what? After all, the Wolfowitzes, Cheneys, Bushes, Feiths, Negropontes, Rices, and Boltons reason, they all volunteered. No one put a gun to their heads and forced them down to the recruiting office to sign on the dotted line. Taking a bullet comes with the territory. Besides, we don’t know any of them personally.
I scan the television channels for some evidence that this is a national day of mourning. I would never know it from the content of the programming: cartoons, soap operas, daytime talkshows. In other words, life goes on. Needless deaths go unrecognized. I look at my two and a half year old grandson. It is very likely that by the time he is eighteen, a draft will be in place. That leaves me a little less than sixteen years to decide how he is going to evade it. But evade it he will.
So remember those in uniform, motivated by the desire to defend liberty, but who died crushing it in defense of an American empire. Remember too the many millions of civilian victims of our empire as well, trampled underfoot by the armies of the Leviathan in search of global power. Holidays like Memorial Day can only continue to exist if the people give them reason to exist. Rather than continue, year after year, century after century, to commemorate those who have fallen in armed service to the State, let us refuse to provide to the State our services with which to start wars and conquer others, reserving our use of force for our own self-defense and allowing others around the globe to do the same. It is the only moral thing to do and the only way to truly honor those who have fallen.