I’m feeling curmudgeonly today. It seems to me that Memorial Day glorifies dying for one’s country. It makes heroes of the men and women who have done so, and encourages the next generation to follow their examples.
I’m all in favor of celebrating and / or mourning the life of anyone who lived however briefly on this planet. That celebration and / or mourning makes sense for people who knew and cared about the deceased. If the deceased was a public person, then people who knew about her or him may feel inclined to celebrate or mourn.
But this public celebration in which new generations are taught to mourn for dead they never knew, and to celebrate their deaths, not their lives, makes no sense to me.
War results from a failure of communication, from greed, from disagreements over anything from religion to profits. It does not result from heroic men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives. I don’t think we need to encourage our future generations to look forward to war. If a war becomes necessary, people will know it, without a childhood of propaganda.
It is often said that it is easier to die for a cause than to live for it. On Memorial Day, I would like people to resolve to make peace in their own lives with our own family and neighbors. If everybody could do that, I doubt we’d have wars. If we have learned not to hate our friends and families for the ways in which they have disappointed us or thwarted us or betrayed us, we will not be so quick to hate strangers for the same mistakes.
If we can start learning to make peace on a personal level, we will be preparing for a war-free future.