Democratic Underground

In Memoriam
May 30, 2001
by Jack Tenhet

Another Memorial Day has come and gone. The smells of barbecues and the laughter of friends and family have almost faded into memory. The waving sea of old glory will now be raised to full staff as the world continues doing what the world does. To many, this was a three day weekend, a time for celebration and glory. For many others, this was a day of remembrance for the friends they lost, the husbands who never came home, the fathers who never held their children, the sons who never played basketball until dinner.

This weekend past, in between the barbecues and waving old glory, we should have paused to remember fields of white crosses; stars of David. We should have paused to remember a wall of black, and the wall that is to come. In all the parades and fanfare, how many of us truly considered, even for a moment, what we owe those who died fighting for our freedom, those who cam back with broken bodies and broken minds. The ghosts that walk on earthly feet, the walking wounded, the living dead.

This weekend there has been much ado about politics and pettiness. Much has been taken for granted amidst the stream of pointing fingers and bruised egos. The blanket of freedom we take for granted is stained with the blood of the countless fallen who died to secure that blanket for us. It's stained with the blood of the ones who came back but never really left. The ones who sleep on park benches, eat in soup kitchens. The blood is the life and it is ours to decide whether OUR lives truly live up to the sacrifices that liberty demanded of so many men and WOMEN. We must ask ourselves if those are just names on a wall, just a field of white crosses, or if those were people who laid down their lives in defense of something greater. Liberty, unity, freedom, these are the stars and stripes we live by and these people, I say ALL who have worn the colours of this great nation, have sacrificed to preserve these for future generations.

While we lay our heads to rest and prepare for another work week to begin. While we sit in traffic and complain about the driver that cut us off or any one of the five million trivialities that we fill our minds with. Why don't we pause, just for a moment and look around. Why don't we stop and see the ragged old man sleeping on the park bench, wrapped in his army coat, his silver star still pinned neatly to his lapel and remember that these are our ghosts. We did not make them, but we inherited them just as we inherited the blanket of freedom they provided. Ironic, isn't it? We have the blanket to keep us warm, yet a disproportionate number of war veterans sleep in the streets with no blankets of their own. They gave theirs up for us.

Yes, maybe it's "liberal". But if honouring those who still fight our wars; those who never left the battlefield, save for in body alone, is "liberal", then I wear that silver star on my lapel proudly and will proclaim it from the rooftops. Leaving our veterans in the streets to rot destroys what they fought for and only shows that we have NO respect for their sacrifice, we have NO honour to us at all. Perhaps, unless we decide to change our hearts and minds, we would be better off without that blanket of freedom since many of us seem to take it so much for granted. Perhaps some of us should spend a night in the cold for a change.

The walking wounded and the living dead surround us. They are the ghosts of wars past and we should honour them in much the same way we honour those who came home to parades and jubilations. It's time we shared the blanket with those who help provide it to us. It's time we brought the dead back to life. It's time we treated the wounds of the walking. We owe them that much and more than we could ever repay. Most of all, we have to search our own hearts and ask ourselves if we are living up to their sacrifice. Are we?

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