Privilege Blog

Memorial Day In The United States

“As Americans commemorate Memorial Day, the culture has come a long way in celebrating the warriors, whatever one thinks of the war.”

Human societies, despite our enviable enthusiasms, despite the processes we establish and the sheer amount of stuff we make, are just not perfect. Not even close. War, poverty, disease, oppression. Don’t worry, I know that’s not wisdom. It’s just context. Because I believe in my heart that each person is perfect in their nature, and should be cared for in life, and mourned at death. No matter ideology, we can remember those who died in battle, those who mourn them at home, and those who return changed by what they went through.

I remember my step-uncle, who came home from Vietnam troubled, and am sorry for his family. I am sorry for my father’s losses, his father and brother both dying in World War II when he was, as they say, just a boy. I would have liked to have known them both.

I consider myself a patriot. A liberal patriot. And I am committed to that position. I come back from travel every time so fond of our country and what we try to stand for. On Memorial Day, and I have to say this, I hope so devoutly that we can as a society and a form of life, move past the need to end eachother’s lives.

I understand that those who fight can be heroes. They are all braver than I. I also hope that our concept of heroism continues to widen past armed conflict. Until then, for anyone who has ever fought or lost a loved one to war, it’s Memorial Day. Let us remember.

Quote from Al Hunt, via Joyce Lau.
Image commemorating the Battle of the Bulge, where my uncle fell, from Dog Company’s flickr stream.

17 Responses

  1. Last night's Andy Rooney segment on 60 Minutes echoed that sentiment as well. Such a refreshing perspective on Memorial Day.

  2. A lovely sentiment but if you think that all our service men and women do that is actually heroic is armed conflict then you need to spend some time with actual members of the military and their families.
    When a tsunami or the earthquake hits there is nothing more beautiful to see than a US Navy hospital ship with medical care, fresh water and marines ready to go to work to clean things up.
    The military does AMAZING things, in addition to being first in line in a conflict…and God Bless them for it.

  3. What a lovely blog, I love your writing style and philosophy.

    I also think I see those Murano doves in my future!

  4. A wonderful, poignant post from you. Your writing is enviable. I would love to have been your high school English teacher! I hope they appreciated your gift. xoxo

  5. hi lpc,

    very well put. i couldn't agree more.

    happy memorial day.


  6. "I also hope that our concept of heroism continues to widen past armed conflict. " Amen.

  7. Thanks you for your tribute to the fallen. Two of our three sons are serving in the military–one a naval aviator, and one an army captain. We are so very proud of them.
    You wrote a poignant reminder to your readers what this reverent holiday is about–not the opening of the pool or the barbecue, but remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. So thank you.

  8. This is such a beautiful post Miss Privilege, thank you.

    Big hugs at you,

  9. Excellent tribute!

    My handsome stepson wore his Coast Guard uniform over to the VFW yesterday to thank the older vets for going before him.

  10. Rats – Thanks. I'm in good company.

    Deja – Thank you very much.

    Belle – Understood.

    Tabitha – Welcome. And thank you. The doves are on my table now. One caution, the tails are a little more spiky than I knew from the picture.

    Preppy 101 – Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. My high school English teacher is the person who convinced Princeton to accept me, so I owe him enormously:). Thank goodness for high school teachers. They are the best.

    Gardner's – Thank you.

  11. Tish – Thank you.

    See you there – Thank you and I appreciate it.

    Buckeroo – Thank you.

    Anonymous – I am so grateful for a thank you from someone like you. Please thank your sons for me.

    TPP – Spoken by the master.

  12. Vee – Thank you so much.

    Patsy – What a great thing for your stepson to do. Amazing.

  13. I am always deeply moved by memorial day, whether in the US, the country of my birth, or Canada, where I now live. I always think of one of the lines of my father's letters to my mother while he was in the South Pacific for three horrific years in WWII: "Yes, it's hard, but one day we'll look back and be proud of what we did."

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