I Dated an American Sniper by Karen Leslie Hernandez

“Happy Memorial Day!”
Did you hear that this past Monday? I find this “celebration” confusing. Memorial Day isn’t a celebration, it’s a remembrance. It’s about more than BBQ’s and parades. It’s about honoring those who’ve died while serving our country.
I always struggle with days that celebrate the passing of someone or a group of people, especially Memorial Day. As a former Air Force spouse turned Pacifist, I’ve spent time in conflict zones and with the work I have done with those who’ve lived through conflict, I know that war, and the violence that comes with it, is not something to ever be elevated in any way. I understand that Memorial Day is to honor those who died serving our country, yet, it is celebrated in the  strangest of ways. Especially because those who have died in combat, most likely suffered a death we can only imagine, yet, have no real grasp of.

Continue reading “I Dated an American Sniper by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

Stop Using the H-Word to Greet This Day by Kate Brunner

Friendship Cemetery, Columbus, Mississippi

Friendship Cemetery, Columbus, Mississippi

 

Happy Memorial Day. Happy? Really? 

Every year, on the last Monday in May, this prosaic American phrase causes me to physically recoil whenever I see or hear it. Happy Memorial Day. With those casual words, tossed over shoulders on our way to beaches, barbecues, & furniture sales, we demonstrate as a nation a deep ignorance of the history of this day and an almost total disconnect from the suffering and death that unending warfare brings our own citizens & their families.

Memorial Day officially began as Decoration Day. Decoration Day officially began with Major General John Logan, head of a Civil War Union veterans organization. In 1868, he issued a general order that declared May 30th a day for decorating “the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church yard in the land.” Over a century later, Congress fixed Memorial Day as a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May. But the genesis of these death rituals, Memorial Day’s true origin, lacks a clear name, date, & location just as much as it lacks honorable culture-wide observance.

As is the way with this sort of magic, multiple threads emerged in multiple places to weave together the birth of the holiday weekend we now so carelessly take advantage of every year. Continue reading “Stop Using the H-Word to Greet This Day by Kate Brunner”

Thank You For Your Service by Esther Nelson

Esther Nelson

We hear it everywhere these days–five words directed towards women and men in military uniform, but also directed towards “vets”–people whose histories include “time served” in some branch of the armed services.  TV show hosts say those five words before adding, “Let’s give a hand to the brave people in uniform who keep us safe.”  Government officials shout it out in military gatherings, “Thank you for your service to the greatest democracy in the world.”

School systems partake in the spirit of it all by surprising an elementary or middle school-aged child during a reading or math class with a father’s (rarely a mother’s) sudden appearance–back home from the war zone safe and sound–at least for now.  Airlines “support our troops” by inviting men and women in uniform (usually wearing army fatigues) to board their flight before the rest of us do.  It’s a trite phrase, “Thank you for your service,” repeated over and over again much like, “Have a nice day.”  What exactly are we thanking our men and women in uniform for?

Some would say our brave young women and men keep us (citizens of the USA) safe from those who would take “freedom” (our way of life, our values, whatever it is we hold dear) from us.  In other words, those in military service are our saviors.  They give up their lives (or are willing to do so) in order that we may live.  In mythology, stories with this theme abound.  Who of us is not familiar with the Christian story/myth telling about Jesus dying for our sins so that we may live eternally–free from death, the consequences of our sin?  So, thank you vets for dying (or, at least being willing to die) so that we can live. Continue reading “Thank You For Your Service by Esther Nelson”

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