As a veteran, Memorial Day has taken on a very different meaning than it did before I served in Kosovo and Afghanistan. It used to symbolize the great sacrifices that my brothers in arms made on behalf of the US and it’s citizens. I do not see it this way anymore. It is not my opinion of those serving in the armed forces that has changed. It is my option of our government that has seen a drastic shift.
Herein lies the problem of Memorial Day. It doesn’t make us consider the wars these soldiers were sent to die in and if the outcome was even worth it. I would say this is just as important as remembering the fallen. None of the conflicts or wars since WWII were entered into in actual defense of the nation. Think about it, none of them were conducted anywhere close to our borders and it has always been a preexisting conflict that had nothing to do with the US, but decided to get involved anyways. Vietnam, Korea, and many more (1) were preexisting conflicts that did not concern the US, but claimed the lives of thousands and thousands of US service members (2).
The War on Terror has been no different. The US government flung the armed services into two simultaneous wars on the flimsiest of justifications (3). Their only plan for success was to spend years and years pouring blood and treasure into the crater where we bombed these countries into pre-civilization.
2,977 Americans died in the September 11 attacks. In the War on Terror we have lost over 5,000 service members and injured over 50,000. It is estimated that more than 1.3 (4) million people have died in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Nothing good can come of all the death and destruction in the Middle East (5). It can only fuel hate against the US and as a result make us less safe (6).
Iraq and the surrounding region has been so destabilized by US occupation that right after our forces are pulled out of Iraq terrorist forces like ISIS fill the power vacuum. Saddam might have been evil to the core, but he was secular, maintained stability in the region, and did not tolerate Muslim extremists. The Christian population in Iraq, who were safe under Saddam (7), has suffered extensively at the hands of ISIS.
In light of all this, Memorial Day has become a perverse joke of the blackest comedy. The US government has used the men and women who volunteer to server as defenders of the country as expendable pawns in its enthusiastic desire to flex its military might. It then devotes one day a year encouraging its citizens to honor their dead. Hiding in plan sight its reckless foreign policy that creates so many dead and wounded. The final insult to our fallen is the utter chaos in the Middle East that renders their deaths meaningless and makes the US less safe. Memorial Day should be about remembering our fallen and honoring them by doing our best to not send anymore service members to the grave.
- List of wars involving the Unites States – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States
- United States military casualties of war – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war
- How they lied us into war in Iraq – https://medium.com/dan-sanchez-blog/16-articles-that-expose-how-they-lied-us-into-war-in-iraq-bedf2e47c0bc
- Report: At least 1.3 million people killed in US war on terror – http://truthinmedia.com/report-at-least-1-3-million-people-killed-in-us-war-on-terror/
- Iraq: A decade of hell – https://youtu.be/rtuk08E09cw
- How drones create more terrorists – http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/how-drones-create-more-terrorists/278743/
- The west was wrong in Iraq and Christians are paying the price – http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3258/the_west_was_wrong_in_iraqand_christians_are_paying_the_price.aspx
Body Count – http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/body-count.pdf
The drone disaster – http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2014/02/13/american-drones-are-creating-terrorists-in-africa-and-asia
War on Terror / Casualties – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Terror#Casualties