Monday, May 31, 2010
Memorial Day 2010
Memorial Days and Armistice Days keep coming and going, yet we're still in two wars with few signs of ceasing. Honoring veterans and those who are currently serving is only right, as is remembering the fallen. However, it's also crucial not to allow war to be portrayed as bloodless and glorious. Perhaps some realistic consideration of the actual consequences of war may enter current political discussions if there's some brief memory of the terrible costs of wars past.
Yesterday, one of my local PBS stations aired an American Experience episode on WWII, "Victory in the Pacific." It seemed quite good to me. I've yet to finish E.B. Sledge's With the Old Breed or see the recently completed mini-series The Pacific, but the Pacific campaign was especially bloody and horrific.
Turning to more recent conflicts, America has passed the one trillion mark for the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The real number - in terms of long-term veteran care, diverted economic resources and strained relations with allied countries – is likely much higher. Digby passes on Rethink Afghanistan, a Facebook application that allows users to choose how they would have spent that one trillion instead. And the money, of course, doesn't capture the human cost, either of American troops, or the many civilians in Afghanistan killed in bombing campaigns. I still don't see any good reason for America still occupying Afghanistan or Iraq. Bill Moyers' piece on LBJ's escalation in Vietnam remains one of the best pieces on the hubris, folly or sincere misjudgment of the "stay the course" mentality.
Of my previous posts in a war series, the most noteworthy are probably "How to Hear a True War Story," "Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels" and "War and the Denial of Loss." In any case, here's hoping that this Memorial Day, some honest remembering of the past may lead to wisdom in the present.