For me personally, Memorial Day is a day of intense pain. Nothing is more irrational than war, nothing is more senseless than war, and nothing is more outrageous than throwing our fellow men, and now women, too, into the most insane situations that require unprecedented and yet all too common heroism just to survive and to come back from.
I was born when Allied bombs were falling around us like rain. As if that were not bad enough, my father was arrested first by the fascists and he was tortured, because if he was not a fascist, then he must be a communist. Then he was arrested by the communists and he was tortured, because if he was not a communist, he must have been a fascist. And when it dawned on them the he was neither a fascist nor a communist, they concluded that he must be the worst of all, an anarchist, and they tortured him some more. My mother went through hell to get him out and bring him back home, a physical wreck requiring care for months afterwards. It never occurred to anybody that maybe he was just a family man with a new baby trying to survive in a world set ablaze by totalitarian ideologies, in a country ravaged by retreating and invading armies raining hell on each other and anybody else whose misfortune it was to be close enough. Nobody agonized over collateral damage in that war; civilians WERE deliberately targeted.
World War Two was a cosmic joke on my mother’s family. Her oldest brother, and actual father figure in her childhood and teens, was stuffed into a nazi uniform and sent to the eastern front. She never heard from him again. Her two next-oldest brothers came to America in the 1920s to join their father; her mother decided not to come. Her favorite brother was in the 85th Infantry Division in northern Italy and he died just two weeks before the Gothic Line collapsed. He was laid to rest in the American Cemetery in Florence. The brother closest to her in age spent the war years and his entire career in the defense industry in Pittsburgh. He was the only relative, grandparents included, that I had ever met in person, when the last of our family finally made it here. A cousin, much older than I, was a lifer in the Air Force.
My wife’s father and uncle both served in WW2. The uncle went through France and was part of the unit that liberated one of the concentration camps; no holocaust denier could tell him it never happened.
I came within one day from getting my commission in the Signal Corps, but the day before graduation day they decided I failed the physical one too many times. My wife was a WAC during part of the Viet Nam war years. Both of us lost friends in that goddamn war.
So there it is. Memorial Day 2013. Yet another time when we remember those who fought, those who died, those who lived to come back, those who keep going back for more, on countless tours in an endless “war on terror.” Thank you all and may God rest your souls.
May God have mercy on the souls of those who survive but don’t remember or care why our veterans put their lives on the line, what they sacrificed for.
May God have mercy on the souls of those who are now eagerly squandering our hard-won inheritance in a headlong plunge into apathy, dependence and slavery to the empty promises of socialist, politically correct “fairness.”
Pray that some day very soon God will show them the error of their ways, before we all end up paying for it.
Pray that God will some day have mercy on all of us and put an end to all this madness.