Memorial Day gives us a chance to pause and reflect somberly on those who have left us, while more recently serving in wars of US aggression. Do the research. When was the last time the US sent men and women to fight a war in which the country has actually been attacked and threatened. And Afghanistan doesn’t count.The original intent of the day was to allow folks to remember the dead and their sacrifice, after the Union victory over the South in the US Civil War. But it also gives us a chance to reflect on the casualties of the internal war waged by our bourgeoisie against the population at home.
Incidentally, Memorial Day is one of the holidays that make up the pillars of US Civil Religion, which is the real “faith” of many North Americans despite their claims of allegiance to other gods the diety that is most revered is their country.
So today with the possible exception of WW I and WWII vets many will honor those who fought honorably for a dishonorable cause. While those who sacrificed serving what they believed to be the interest of this country, in reality they gave themselves up to improve the bottom line of the corporate robber barons the banksters and the ruling families while expanding the reach, the ego and the territory of the rulers of this country.
On the other hand the less celebrated heroes of this country are those who fought to improve the living conditions and lives of their fellow Americans.
Today we honor the Native Americans who fought to hold on to their land and their birthright. Geronimo who was such a threat to European hegemony that he had to be murdered in his jail cell. The Seminoles and runaway former slaves gave the famous Indian Killer Andrew Jackson and the US government all it could handle. The US government lost a few battles to these Indians and slaves in the swamps of Northern Florida. It took the government decades to subdue them and when they did they resorted to dirty tricks, terror and burning of Seminole homes and agriculture. The Seminole leaders including Osceola, were only subdued after being tricked into attending a so-called “peace” conference.
And the Indian population has continued to fight for their rights and the rights of others.
We should honor those who sacrificed so that workers could have an eight hour day and not have to work from sun up to sun down. We should honor the early unionists who sacrificed and sometimes were killed by police and other armed agents of the government for asking for just a little more from the bosses.
Today we should remember the abolitionists who sacrificed well being and social position and sometimes their lives to take a stand against slavery.
We should tip our hat to the courageous White sharecroppers who banded together sometimes with fellow Black sharecroppers and tenant farmers and formed cooperatives often at the risk of death or just short of it.
This is a good time to remember the women who fought for the right for women to vote and continued to fight for women’s rights and everyone’s rights. Some as a result lost freedom and others lost livelihoods.
Today we should remember those who died trying to get this country to live up to its creed of justice and equality for all. The Civil Rights Movement created quite a share of martyrs too many to name here but suffice it to say that many more died simply trying to live out their lives and demanding the rights promised to them by their birthright and the US Constitution.
One soldier upon being asked to deploy to Iraq in the US second intervention in that country said, “It to me is embarrassing to fight for a way of life in which basic human needs, like a place to sleep one hot meal a day and some medical attention cannot be met in our nation’s capitol.”
We should pour one for the many heroes and sheroes who actually fought and died to make men and women free, who fought so that everyone could make a decent living, decent and affordable housing, equal rights, equal access and equal treatment.
Today we should remember all the freedom fighters who have paved the way for us to enjoy the few freedoms we have left. Today pour one for the freedom fighters who sacrificed fighting the war at home.
justice then peace