Memorial Day

Added on by PS Cat02.
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For the past three years, Bunny, Kim, Mimi, and I have observed Memorial Day by spending the day in silence. But since writing doesn't require talking I think it's okay for me to write a post in this diary.

For our international readers who aren't familiar with 'Memorial Day', it's a national holiday here in the U.S. that was created to remember and honor people who died while in military service to their country. When I was younger I used to always get it confused with 'Veterans Day' because that one is also about people who served in the military (although for that one you don't have to die in order to be honored). To add to my confusion, in practice both holidays are observed in near-identical fashion: lots of flag waving, parades, day off from school and work, sporting events with U.S. Air Force jet plane fly-overs, fabulous mattress and automobile sales events, backyard BBQ parties, etc. Anyway, American culture is complicated.

We (cats) first started observing Memorial Day by not talking after Kim had brought up the question, "How are we going to celebrate Memorial Day?" Considering the somber nature of the event the word "celebrate" struck me as not fitting so well. So we started talking about it and in the end we all decided to use the day as a day of reflection, to just be silent and think about the meaning of the day.

This morning we got an e-mail from a soldier serving in Iraq asking if we are "anti-soldier", and if we "even celebrate Memorial Day at all".

I wrote back saying no, we are not "anti-soldier" in theory, although in real life lots of times I don't agree with what soldiers actually do (regardless of why they do it, or who compels them to do it). I do respect people who are willing to put their life on the line for what they believe in, but I don't think the military encourages soldiers to think deeply about what they believe in. Usually they are told what they should believe in - that's different. I also respect people who serve the greater good, but I think the military generally serves the interests of the ruling elite, not "the People". So it's complicated.

As for Memorial Day, I think in general it represents War Culture. For example, why do we have a day to remember people who fought for 'peace & justice' as it's defined by The State, but we don't have a holiday for those who fought The State in the name of peace and justice? The absence of such a holiday is War Culture. And is it really honorable to memorialize the soldiers who fought and died in wars, without also acknowledging the millions of innocent civilians who died as a direct result of those same wars? The valuing of some people's lives and the dismissal of others' is also War Culture. These kinds of contradictions help us to see why Memorial Day is a national holiday, while, say, federal and state employees don't get a day off to celebrate 'LGBT Liberation Day'. Which, by the way, would be a fabulous holiday and I would be very happy to celebrate it!

Personally I know a lot of soldiers and former soldiers and at a personal level I like most of them; seems to me like they're more or less like everybody else. But I also have to be clear that they are supporting a system that I oppose. The military industrial complex is a problem, not a solution.

Now back to silence. This keyboard is super noisy.

~ pinky