| with all due respect to those who knowingly or unknowingly
gave their lives for noble or ignoble reasons
The mainstream media of its day reported that the anti-Roman-empire radical Jesus said: “Let the dead bury the dead.”
That quote reads like a Zen koan. How could the dead bury the dead if they, too, were dead? Was Jesus being callous and insensitive? Was he metaphorically saying not to dwell on the past or on what is already gone? Or that many are walking around spiritually dead and there's nothing you can do for them? Or that only by fully embracing life (without bias, even towards one’s family) can one be fully alive? Or was he in effect saying, ‘Don’t let the dead trick you because death is an illusion (because we live on in the Spirit world) and we all must truly be alive while in these beautiful gifts called human bodies’?
“Jesus wept” is another quote, from the Gospel of John. After Lazarus’ death, Jesus was with the grieving sisters, Martha and Mary, and the mourners. Grieving but not wallowing is a healthy means for processing deep emotions and loss.
This is all part of saying that, in my humble opinion, Memorial Day is stuck in a trench of half-assed emotions, neither fully grieving nor learning the lessons and moving forward into a more peaceful way of handling foreign affairs; the first (grieving) typically leads to the latter (moving forward) yet with a renewed appreciation for life.
Memorial Day is also caught in a slew-mo replay of exclusivity nationalism. The US won World War II, right? But the USSR had approximately 26 million loss of lives; the US approximately 400,000; and of 50 countries total, an estimated 55 million people. Russia, the “evil empire” of the Cold War and now demonized in the Media Cold War, gets nary an acknowledgment for helping to, you know, save the world. So how about some olive branches abroad to go along with the wreaths at home.
Then there are the more current losses of a reported 1 million Iraqi lives (from an invasion based on a lie about WMDs), an estimated 400,000 Syrians from the so-called civil war (some say it's about a natural gas pipeline and regional control), and for the Yemenis being militarily pounded by Saudi Arabia, with whom the US – via the reportedly tiny hand of the president – just signed an approximately $110 billion weapons deal (worth $350 billion over ten years), the “UN has put the death toll of the 18-month war at more than 10,000, with 3,799 of them being civilians.” And sadly on and on, all due to questionable or outright insane interventions into foreign countries while much of the money could be used at home to improve peoples' lives, repair infrastructure and build sustainable energy systems.
Memorial day is also sacrilegious with its thinking stuck inside the big-box store sales, not to mention it is three weeks before the Sun says it is summer yet people mindlessly consider it “the beginning of the summer season.”
Speaking of seasons and Christ, it is perhaps telling that the following two memorial atrocities happened during the Christmas season:
Mankato, Blue Earth County, Minn., Friday, December 26, 1862. President Lincoln ordered the execution of 38 Native Peoples, “the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux and to appease his political cronies in Minnesota.”Since many names will probably be read aloud on Memorial Day, here are some you won’t hear on TV – those who were executed that day:
Add to that, the historical sum total of 90-95% of the Native Peoples, African slaves, slave labor immigrants both legal and illegal that have helped build the country, and more.
The Japanese internment camps of WW II are comparable with the current prison-industrial system whose newest wave of boogie-men-and-women are Muslims and immigrants of color.
Let us honor the lives of the people lost; the roads we travel, the foods we eat, the clothes we wear all bear their hard-working energy and names.
If you haven’t already, try weeping (even if only for a few moments in your mind) for the losses and atrocities ― and vow to do something to make this a more peaceful world, a less harmful and more harmonious place to be.
1. “World War II casualties”
2. “World War II”
3. “Casualties of the Syrian Civil War”
4. “Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen”
5. “Largest mass hanging in United States history”
6. “Remembering the Dakota 38: A List of Those Executed in 1862”
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. His recent books include “Musings With The Golden Sparrow” and “Drive-thru Theofascism & The Hero's Journey.” To read his new blog, go to ScribeVibe.