It’s that time of the year again where we celebrate millions of human tragedies of lost lives with picnics, ball games, flag waving, and other bizarre behavior that does not seem to logically coincide with the heaviness of the day. We are talking about a “memorial day” for those who paid the ultimate price in protecting our country. Very strange indeed.
I remember going on picnics back home in Michigan on Memorial Day weekend. With winter weather just a few weeks past, it was a real celebration of being outside. But even then, as a little boy, I found it strange we remembered the loss of so many with a picnic. In fact, it was only after many years of celebrating the holiday that I realized there was a connection between these picnics and a national tragedy.
The situation has further gotten worse over time as store sales seem to take precedence over stories of true valor. In addition it seems that we do not just honor those who sacrificed, but the wars themselves. I know, it may be hard to differentiate between the two, but I think it is important to try. All of the wars the US fought were costly — both in dollars and lives. For many, if not most, we have little to show for them.
The best way to honor the fallen, is to make sure there are fewer that fall in the future.
By the 1980s, military service became highly regarded again. The pendulum had swung in an opposite extreme. Politicians in general began to create linkage between the worthiness of the soldier and their wars. Since these were good people, who gave so much, it was only logical that it was for “good reason.” Eventually being critical of wars was perceived as hostility towards those who fought, as patriotism took precedence over people. This is exactly what politicians want. Forget about wrapping these wars in the American flag, politicians wrap them up in the coffins of those who make the ultimate sacrifice. What a brilliant, if not sadistic, strategy. It has cost so many lives. Americans should take a different strategy and damn the politicians. We should be extremely vigilant in making sure these wars are, in fact, worth US dollars and (more importantly) human lives.
Forget about wrapping these wars in the American flag, politicians wrap them up in the coffins of those who make the ultimate sacrifice.
The best way to honor the fallen, in my opinion, is to make sure there are fewer that fall in the future. The way to pursue that is simple. The US should only be allowed to take offensive military actions with countries (or entities, such as ISIS) that it has declared war against. The War Powers Act, which was designed to protect the country from immediate danger and the Constitution from a president who would go too far without Congress, has been ignored. It has become so weak, Trump disregarded it entirely in his unconstitutional wars against Syria. It is amazing the President would inform the ally of the country he was striking, but not tell a single member of Congress. Meanwhile, he has done so without any concern of consequence. The War Powers Act is now a dinosaur — a remnant of the past.
It is time for the US to develop a means to defend the Constitution, preserve lives, and those that would be sent to fight wars. A president should have the ability to quickly and powerfully defend US interests in an attack, but never be allowed to be continually involved in global spats, like in Syria, without declaring war.
It is clear, the U.S. should only be in offense, when both houses of Congress has voted for such. That approach is both moral and effective. When members of Congress are forced to vote in favor of war, they get to deal with their constituents. They should have to explain to voters how the loss of young men and women is justified. Currently, members of Congress get to hide behind the appetite of a president who acts unilaterally or as part of an international coalition. Either way, US lives are continuously put on the line without clear goals or a resolve to win. The only way you get the type of “buy in” from the American people that leads to victories, is to have members of Congress vote for every war. Approaching wars like this could prevent future soldiers from being harmed or killed. Can you think of a better to celebrate Memorial Days?