Another depressing Memorial Day has come and gone without noticeable ceremony or celebration truly worthy of those who died honorably fulfilling their military obligations. Whether or not their service contracts were entered voluntarily they deserve a more honest remembrance than is typically organized at the media's celebratory forefront. So choreographed is the nation with red white and blue shmaltz that even hard-core veterans find it difficult to renounce the disingenuous "hero" labels and the ill-advised "thank you for your service" adieux—both promoted and popularized by that "unwarranted military influence" against which Ike so futilely warned back in 1961. The youngest of minds are irremediably cheated with this propagandized shtick by absorbing the lie that military service is inherently heroic and worthy of emulation.
America typically does not celebrate victims of crime and there seems no reason to make an exception in the case of veterans. Some enlist "to preserve our way of life" as the bromide goes yet incrementally discern they are but unwitting participants in acts of aggression supporting direct or indirect imperialism. This awareness is perhaps the first indicator of "moral injury"—an increasingly fashionable term in the world of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Certainly the overwhelming realization of being a cog in the world's most accomplished killing machine can produce "profound emotional shame" in individuals perceiving such participation to be personal "moral transgression" despite having been "duped". With no escape clause in service contracts the shame intensifies with time. This makes the now-sentient volunteer a victim of his chosen circumstances. U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal currently appears to be a case in point. As for the less-perceptive, combat zones victimize everyone whether victor or defeated.
Germane circumstances invariably are created by actions tantamount to war crime, so one can only surmise that the typical U.S. combat veteran is a crime victim. Certainly George W. Bush and a few high level officials guiding his administrations arguably are long past due for prosecution1. Commendably the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal already has returned several guilty verdicts1 however symbolic. Certain lies, deceits, and barbaric actions of the last four U.S. administrations appear to be directly responsible for the untimely demise of hundreds of thousands of innocent Middle East and North Africa residents, largely explaining the exponential rise of extremism in that part of the world and completely explaining the largest European refugee crisis since WWII. It seems both sides of conflicting forces always become war crime victims along with others in the neighborhood, even near bystanders.
So next Memorial Day what will you thank a deceased veteran for? Illegal invasions of sovereign nations? Slaughtering brown people for riches? Defending our way of life? Ha. "Our whole history shows we have never fought a defensive war" is how U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Darlington Butler stated it back in the 1930's. Wars are not initiated to defeat enemies but to create conditions favorable to national policy interests. U.S. forces historically in any final analysis are but complimentary corporate muscle.
Deceased veterans must be remembered but not for heroism or glory or any perceived "victory". Their untimely deaths best remind us of the pain of war, the futility, the loss of innocence, and the needless suffering that lingers in places far beyond the battlefield. The youngest of minds need to know these realities to learn an abhorrence of war and to appreciate the value of diplomacy, detente, and informed consensus—the value of human dignity—and to embrace a loathing of military service for imperialistic purposes. Such awareness constitutes education in part. Training produces more flag-waving fools.
Long ago Plato argued that cities, nations, and the human race could have no rest from evils before rule by philosopher kings is established and until political greatness and wisdom entirely coincide. Try to envision a Middle East and north Africa under highly educated world leaders who place enormous value on human dignity and who never attempt to expand their influence with either extortion or brute force. Now imagine Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in any position of world leadership. Nightmares!
1domain criminalisewar.org no longer available 02/11/2017 - associated links removed,