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What really deserves memorializing

I dislike government-declared holidays. I hate holidays designed to evoke uncritical emotional reactions. Above all, I hate holidays that demand that we all adopt some government-supremacist worldview — or keep our mouths shut when we disagree.

We now have two holidays in the year that serve the same purpose: to impose upon us the lie that all soldiers who fight in any war are always “fighting for our freedom.” (As long as they work for the U.S. government, of course. Presumably soldiers who work for opposing governments are all poltroons at best and baby-raping war criminals at worst.)

Today, we’re told that every American soldier who ever died in a U.S. government-conducted war is a hero. Another lie. Of course some were heroes. And some were unconscionable jerks, murderous monsters. The majority were just poor saps who were only following orders.

You name me the soldier, dead or alive, whose sacrifice helped make the world more free and I’ll honor him. Any honor I can give is, of course, absolutely inadequate. But I’ll honor him in the best way I can — by exercising and doing my bit to promote the freedom he strove to protect.

I gladly honor Bradley Manning. Now there’s a man who sacrificed (and is still sacrificing) himself for freedom. And Pat Tillman. He gave up a multi-million dollar football career because he believed (wrongly) that he was defending his country. His government killed him and lied about it — and the truths that his determined family forced to light encouraged freedom by encouraging skepticism about deadly government propaganda. Citizen-soldier Captain John Parker? A man deserving honor indeed. And Hugh Thompson, Lawrence Colburn, and Glenn Andreotta, who put their own lives on the line to halt the My Lai massacre. How could anyone fail to honor them?

And of course there are thousands more freedom fighters — maybe millions the world over — who deserve gratitude that none of us easy-living folks will ever be able to give them.

But freedom requires thinking. And giving uncritical honor to any class isn’t thinking. And calling everyone who ever put on a uniform and obeyed government orders “a hero” is the most damnable sort of lie.

Today we’re ordered to revere the dead. Those who got drafted against their will to serve the purposes of the government-industrial complex. Those who took such cant phrases as “domino theory,” “weapons of mass destruction,” and “they hate us for our freedom” as their substitute for personal investigation and critical thought. Those who died in illegal wars because they didn’t learn, or didn’t care, otherwise. Those who killed non-combatants. Those who were “only following orders” and had no idea what they were actually fighting for.

We’re even supposed to honor those whose government-aiding actions have, over time, taken more and more political freedom from us. We’re supposed to honor people who believe unquestioning obedience is “freedom.” People whose actions have led to ever-larger, ever-more-controlling government, decade upon decade.

We’re supposed to cease thinking and call them all “heroes.” And honor them all for their sacrifice and their “service” — even if the institution and the causes they served are the opposite of everything expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

No thank you. Today (and every day), though I join in mourning the dead, it’s a different kind of death that’s the ultimate tragedy.

And that sacrifice has been for nothing. Nothing.


  1. Claire
    Claire May 27, 2013 8:58 am

    I want to add that I realize that whether or not I, as one individual, give honor to anybody is a matter of virtually no consequence. I know that.

    I also know that, when the government is so insistent that all of us honor all people who serve it, there’s a wrongness there. And that both waving our flags over the lies or keeping our lips sealed help perpetuate that wrongness.

  2. Woody
    Woody May 27, 2013 8:59 am

    Damn, Claire, that was good.

    I am a veteran (1967-1971). Memorial day and Veterans day have always irritated the shit out of me for all the reasons you mention.

  3. Claire
    Claire May 27, 2013 9:09 am

    Thank you, Woody.

    The opinions I expressed would be more credible coming from somebody like you — someone who’s been there and done that. I hesitated to write this because I know it’s going to upset some people — who will inevitably tell me I should shut up because I’ve never worn a uniform.

    But yeah … I can imagine how these two holidays hit home, and hit hard, for you.

  4. Jim B.
    Jim B. May 27, 2013 9:54 am

    Indeed, once I’ve twigged onto the “enforced” honoring thing, I just enjoy having a long weekend, which is about the only thing good about it, IMHO. I saw that this is really about honoring Government and all they do, which chaps my ass. I’m well aware the fact that not all who serve, deserves.

    Case in point, take a look at the Generals who participated in WWII, then take a long look at the bonus army camp fiasco.

  5. Water Lily
    Water Lily May 27, 2013 11:11 am

    Good stuff, Claire.

    My father was a drafted poor sap who fought the Japanese in New Guinea in WWII. For that “honor of service,” he received shrapnel in the face, Malaria – 3X, and terrible back problems. Not to mention PTSD. Oh yeah, and a purple heart.

    I’ve grown to detest Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.

    I cannot go online on those days without coming across those stupid “You can thank the soldiers sacrifice for your freedom to barbecue today,” comments.

    Somebody just posted on FB and I’m chomping at the bit to retort, but I’ll hold my tongue because it will do no good. Here’s their post, complete with photos of soldiers boots with American flags in them. “I would like to see everyone repost this out of respect for those that gave us freedom of speech and religion and much more. Show that you recognize their sacrifice by reposting.”

    My nausea runneth over…

  6. AlanR
    AlanR May 27, 2013 1:01 pm

    One of my clients told me a few days ago that as a Viet Nam veteran he HATES when someone tells him, “Thank you for your service.” He said he didn’t want to be there and he was only there because the alternative was jail. Appearantly, the penalty for failing to fight for their definition of “freedom” is losing your own. Something seriously Orwellian in that.

  7. Shel
    Shel May 27, 2013 1:16 pm

    This is a tough one. After having been in the service (coincidentally ’67-’71), and having had a security clearance, I’m quite conflicted on Bradley Manning. Reading the Wikipedia article on him, I can’t figure out how in the heck he ever got a security clearance with all his emotional trouble. The standards must be lower now. Yes, much of the classified information, especially in the less restrictive categories, is designated as such simply to keep it out of the newspapers. While awkward, the FOIA route is the proper one to declassify things. Perhaps it’s just my inability to relay something I have been told in confidence, whether by an individual or a government.

    As one politician said about the Confederates buried in Arlington Cemetery, they “did their duty as they saw it.” I still honor the veterans for that reason. Almost 30 years after leaving active duty, I had someone thank me for my service; I found it quite startling.

    I’m as upset as anyone about the suffering of the well-intended. Personally I believe our entrance into virtually every war since the War of 1812 has been a trick. For additional irritation, see Pat Buchanan’s “The Tojo Doctrine” or Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket” Butler, for those who haven’t heard of him, was no slouch

    Happy Memorial Day, anyway.

  8. Sam
    Sam May 27, 2013 1:33 pm

    I’m a USAF vet (1962 – 1966) and agree 100% with you and “Woody”. Thanks for having the courage to write that, Claire.

  9. Roberta X
    Roberta X May 27, 2013 6:38 pm

    “Enforced honoring?” Somebody hold a gun to your head, did they? It’s a day for everyone military-type who died doin’ what they thought was right. It’s not a day for the cynical pols who sent ’em there.

    Folk who can’t tell the difference oughtn’t be lecturing others about “freedom” and “individualism.”

  10. Claire
    Claire May 27, 2013 6:56 pm

    Roberta X — Lots of people have died doing what they thought was right. Where’s the day to honor those who weren’t wearing a government uniform?

    Lots of soldiers who died (or didn’t) knew they were doing wrong — or at least knew that they weren’t “heroes” “fighting for freedom.”

    That’s what I’m objecting to — that we’re all supposed to pretend something that isn’t true just because it serves government purposes. If we had a little more truth, a little more independent thinking, we wouldn’t have so many uniformed people dying.

  11. Jim B.
    Jim B. May 27, 2013 7:22 pm

    Did you see where I said that it has really become about ‘honoring’ GOVERNMENT? All you need is to turn on the boob tube during the news and you’ll see various government flunkies supposedly “honoring” our fallen. Which, IMNSHO, has become publicity to show just how much they “cared”. Also did you see where I also said, “Not all those who served, deserve”?

    Look, I’m all for paying respect for those who did do the right thing in the right way. Not all was the right thing or the right way about it.

    As for “enforced”, well, just try to them that all you like to do during Memorial Day Week-end is to relax and crack open a cool one and not do anything to “honor” those who fell. They’ll look at you like you’ve grown a third eye.

    Those who started Memorial Day probably did it with the best of intentions, but like everything else government has gotten its hands on, it became corrupted by all these publicity seeking idiotic talking heads.

  12. Matt, another
    Matt, another May 27, 2013 7:50 pm

    While I don’t like government mandated holidays of any kind, I’ve never felt forced to celebrate or ordered too. Memorial Day and Veterans Day were supported by veterans and anti-war groups that wanted us to remember the horrors of war, the losses endured and strive not to repeat the mistakes that led to past wars,

    I spent 14 years of my life serving in uniform. When I could no longer support the government’s agenda I left the service. I know my service was not in vain and many of my comrades in arms were truly serving honorably and continues that tradition.

    On Memorial Day, I don’t think of dupes in uniform or of poltroons. I think of my friends that died in service. I think of the cousin that returned from Vietnam so damaged he was never the same. I remember my friends father dyding in Vietnam never meeting his son; I remember his son who died just three weeks ago from injuries received in 20 years of service. I think of the mentor and one of the best men I ever new that was killed by a bomb in Iraq. I think of my best friend that couldn’t beat the PTSD from a few different wars and died after leaving the service. I remember the co workers that have scars and disabilities serving and doing what they thought was best. Many of us still fight the demons and injuries of what we experienced.

  13. Claire
    Claire May 27, 2013 8:16 pm

    I exaggerated when I wrote “ordered.” There is, however, one hell of a lot of pressure, from the poppy pedlars at the post office to the incessant “thank a soldier for the freedom to barbecue” idiocy.

    No, no real orders. We’re not that far over the tyranny line yet. But sometimes there’s a scary, mindless jingoism, and always there’s the feeling that if you’d like to see fewer wars and fewer dead soldiers, you’d better just shut your trap.

    And clearly government feeds this frenzy for its own purposes.

  14. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein May 27, 2013 8:26 pm

    Nice post Claire, on a sad topic all around. People function to create and produce; no wonder we hate death and destruction.

    It’s interesting, that wide disparity between what the actors who do the action intend, versus what those ordering the action intend and what action gets done. More than a few grunts genuinely believed they were protecting our freedom. They never knew any differently, plus look where they went to school. Besides, who could’ve guessed…oil and poppies? Kids dying for that?? C’mon. And “they’re all our kids” yet.

    We send children to die and get maimed so that Teddy Kennedy can live the life he did? Barney Frank? John Boehner? Eric Cantor? It goes on and on, into the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions…the lies told, the wealth scammed, the lives ruined and lost.

    No wonder it takes a village to raise those kids; no individual could be that sick.

    Well, hallelujah…it looks like the Age of Secrecy is over for the looters. This is something decent LEOs, however many may be left, could use to understand. Everyone knows what goes on, or will come to know, and some imaginary “why” can’t save anyone from their guilt and shame. Well, nobody can hide under any circumstance, at least not from themselves…and that’s the only one that counts in the first place.

    The good news is that whether we admit it or not, we’re all of us free anyway. The bad news is that whether we admit it or not, we’re all of us free anyway. The responsibility may be daunting, but that’s the way it is, now and forever more. Thanks for making that clear to so many people.

  15. Old Printer
    Old Printer May 27, 2013 8:48 pm

    You’re not worth the effort of a reply. Now, or ever.

  16. naturegirl
    naturegirl May 27, 2013 8:54 pm

    Very thought provoking post, Claire. Bits and pieces of it has probably rattled around in my brain for decades and never really became complete – reading this helped.

    I have family who served in WW1 & 2. Close friends who were in VN. I’ve heard it explained in so many forms: “a job/paycheck” “an education” “I had to, I was drafted.” I don’t think I’ve heard “freedom” used by them as one of the explanations since the WW2 vets.

    You have perfectly pointed out the flaws with this “holiday.” And it makes sense. For many of the reasons Matt, another has listed I still think that it’s important to honor/remember those who not only died but the ones damaged from being sent into it. However, when I do that I also mourn the fact that they were used in such an insensitive manner by a power crazed gov.

    I admire your courage in writing this. Thank you for making me think 🙂

  17. D. Ogenese
    D. Ogenese May 27, 2013 9:15 pm

    Well said. What we are seeing is the left devaluing the word “hero”, by using it to describe every poor sap who put on a uniform – drafted or not, clerks, cooks, REMF’s, and all the others.

    I remember all the fuss made over the pilot in Serbia who managed to evade and escape, and how they fawned over him for saving his own skin. And that gal who got captured during the Iraq war – I’m sure she was brutalized and worse before she was rescued, but that does not rise to the level of heroism. Not that there’s anything wrong with saving you own skin, but heroes generally try to save others, like by running into a burning building or fighting a rear guard action, or something.

    The words “hero” and “heroic” should be reserved for the exceptional, and not used to describe the commonplace. Not every hero died proving it, and not every dead guy is a hero.

  18. IndividualAudienceMember
    IndividualAudienceMember May 27, 2013 10:15 pm

    I’ve come to think of Memorial Day as Suckers Day.

    On the other hand, I knew a medic who would sing to the 18yr olds, as they were killed in their foxholes, to comfort them. He seemed ok and worth remembering on a particular day.

    Anyway, I came across this bit and thought of you (and I) and a few others here:

    “I know many people who believe they are already free and are already living life exactly the way they want to. This is preposterous. At a superficial level, yes. But beyond that, there are oceans of potential expression and invention they haven’t begun to fathom. If by “free” they mean relatively unencumbered by outside forces, but locked down tight as a drum from the inside, then yes, they are free, and good luck to them.” …

  19. winston
    winston May 28, 2013 4:05 am

    Yeah pardon my language but as an active duty guy I gotta be the one to say fuck ALL that crap about glorifying the institutions and throwing the word freedom around where it doesn’t belong.

    So raise a beer for those that didn’t return and when you finish it, chuck the bottle at the face of the nearest field grade officer.

  20. Hanza
    Hanza May 28, 2013 4:06 am

    I was active duty Navy from 61 to 81. Retired as a Chief Petty Officer.

    Neither I nor anyone I served with, nor others who served that I have talked with have ever thought of our selves as “heros”.

  21. Pre-press veteran
    Pre-press veteran May 28, 2013 5:55 am

    Everyone gets a medal and no one’s ever a failure…

  22. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein May 28, 2013 7:16 am

    “You’re not worth the effort of a reply. Now, or ever.”

    Was that for me, Printer? Either way, it makes my point. You get to choose, for you. Sorta nice for everyone that way, eh?

    In “High Plains Drifter,” Eastwood had a great line. After prepping the townspeople to ambush and kill the hoodlums on the way, he was asked (paraphrasing), “So after we do the deed, what do we do then?” The man with no name had exactly the right answer…

    “Then you live with it.”

  23. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau May 28, 2013 7:42 am

    I too am creeped out when someone “thanks me for my service” (USMC ’68-’72). It feels like being thanked for being a dupe with good intentions – and we all know what good intentions are worth. I’m forever grateful I never was put in a position of having to kill someone defending against American invaders.

    Maybe we need a Memorial day for the victims of the US government – including those, little more than children, manipulated and propagandized into fighting its dirty wars.

  24. Laird
    Laird May 28, 2013 12:49 pm

    I think Paul Bonneau said it well: “being a dupe with good intentions”. That was me. I enlisted in the Army (’70-’73) because I believed that what we were doing in Viet Nam was important and necessary. I never saw action (and certainly never did anything heroic), and it wasn’t until much later that I came to realize that we screwed up that war in every way possible, from entry to exit and every step in between. But at the time I believed that I was helping my country and “maintaining our freedoms.” And I think that describes a lot of the people who have or do serve in the military.

    Which is why I’m conflicted about Claire’s piece. There was a time when this country really did embody individual freedom, and the memory (perhaps “momentum” is a better word) of that still lingers and we still think of ourselves as being free. (And, in comparison to much of the rest of the world, perhaps that’s even true, at least in a relative sense.) The people who fought to attain and preserve that freedom deserve respect, even if the government does not and even if we believe that in many cases what they were fighting for doesn’t truly merit the word “freedom”. They put themselves into harm’s way because they believed they were protecting something valuable. If that belief was misplaced it changes neither the intention nor the sacrifice. And that’s what Memorial Day and Veterans Day are designed to celebrate: the individuals who served, not the government which sent them into peril.

    I won’t dispute that politicians have hijacked this (and every) holiday, but that doesn’t have to detract from observing it as you see fit (which certainly can include doing nothing at all). The government’s declaration of a holiday does little more than close its offices; no one else is forced to do anything, and lots of stores and businesses are open. If all you do on this holiday is reflect on the lives wasted in pointless wars for the aggrandizement of politicians that is far from a bad thing. But the motivations of those fallen soldiers deserve respect, and their wasted lives at least an occasional thought by the rest of us.

  25. naturegirl
    naturegirl May 28, 2013 2:13 pm

    Thanks to all who answered, too. Well said.

  26. Old Printer
    Old Printer May 28, 2013 2:31 pm

    Jim Klein, no the non-reply wasn’t meant for you. It was for the hate-filled owner of this blog who should re-read Ayn Rand’s speech and Q & A at West Point. How people like Claire can remain in a country they obviously despise makes about as much sense as someone like me visiting here. How about it Claire, I’ll stop the trolling if you pack up and leave? Make the Gestapo happy, huh?

  27. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal May 28, 2013 3:59 pm

    I find it so sad when clueless people confuse “the country” with the government. I love America, but if the evil idiots who make up the USA (the State/government that occupies America) were worth the effort, I would hate them. But they, and those who suckle at their festering orifices, are not worth the trouble.

    Some people shared my “Death-by-Government Day” post on various fora (?… forums?) and then shared the venomous responses with me. It just goes to show the depth of the brainwashing into that death cult. And the violent responses also simply proved my point, to anyone who could have paid attention.

    One of the most heart-wrenching things I ever read was written yesterday about that blood-soaked “holy day”. The commenter said that he now realized he was NOT fighting for freedom, but that “they were my friends, and I miss them”. I feel sorry for this guy, and I know that the ones they were paid to kill probably feel exactly the same about their dead friends.

  28. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein May 28, 2013 5:42 pm

    Wow, Printer; now I’m really confused! “Hate-filled owner of this blog”??? You gotta be kidding; even dumb puppies know that ain’t right. “Obviously despise” the country??? You must be reading someone else…why in the world would Claire waste her time if that were the case?

    Sorry, I should’ve figured it out when you wrote, “You’re not worth the effort of a reply” right after making the effort of a reply. Doing what you judge as not worth it, is extremely self-destructive. I gotta hunch you already know that, though.

    Anyway, you must be the local troll; I’ll try to stop feeding you and I’m sorry for what you must go through. Maybe read that Clint Eastwood line a little closer, and try to understand.

  29. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein May 28, 2013 6:12 pm

    Hey Claire, this is for you.

    “Some of you may be bewildered by this campaign and may be wondering, in good faith, what errors you committed to bring it about. If so, it is urgently important for you to understand the nature of the enemy. You are attacked, not for any errors or flaws, but for your virtues. You are denounced, not for any weaknesses, but for your strength and your compassion. You are penalized for being the protectors of the United States.”

    —–Ayn Rand at West Point, 3/6/74

    I’ve been around the block and I know what it is to be hated for one’s virtues. I’ve been doing this since well before the Internet and just for the record, I don’t know of any single person who’s work has protected more Americans, than yours.

    Patton would be jealous, and you should be as proud as any person can be.

  30. Tin Can Sailor
    Tin Can Sailor May 28, 2013 7:12 pm

    Memorial Day / Decoration Day were started over a hundred and fifty years ago by many small towns and communities. It was a way to remember those fallen. No politics was involved. It was just a day when friends and families could come to the grave site of a fallen soldier and remember. Remembered for who he was in life, as a soldier as a citizen and as a loved one. I want to think that all Americans would understand this and see why these military fallen are honored.
    I retired after twenty years in the Navy, it was a once in a lifetime experience and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. It enabled me to see the world that we live in and see that we are not as many would think. The most loved nation on the planet. But with that said. We are the United States and for many WE are the last hope. Yes politics get’s us into more trouble then it’s worth sometimes. But that is how it works sometimes. For a few of you who lost loved ones I am so very sorry, I won’t make some statement the will try and make up for your loss.
    Those of you who chose to either not participate or just don’t care to remember of our fallen, that is your choice. It is selfish and misguided in my opinion. I chose to remember them, with all their faults or heroism’s because when it comes down to it. They died for the people of the United States. Right or wrong they need to be remembered.

  31. IndividualAudienceMember
    IndividualAudienceMember May 28, 2013 8:36 pm

    “when it comes down to it. They died for the people of the United States.”

    Nope, they died for the Power Elite, and no one else.

    Memorial Day

    “… name any war the United States ever fought to defend American rights.” …

    Memorializing leads to glorifying, and glorifying leads the young and ignorant down the same path. That’s why it’s wrong.

  32. Old Printer
    Old Printer May 28, 2013 9:24 pm

    Thank you Tin Can Soldier. You said it better than anyone here. God Bless them all.

  33. Pat
    Pat May 28, 2013 9:28 pm

    To Old Printer – Study this quote by H. L. Mencken:

    “The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”

    There is a lot of despair in Claire’s blogs, as well as in many of the comments that are made here on a daily basis. The U.S. is going downhill fast – not because the country is “hate-filled”, but because the government is ignoring the principles on which this country was founded, and there’s no way to stop it short of outright revolution, which libertarian-anarchists are reluctant to initiate.

    Frustration leads to despair – and often anger, too. But listen to the words and put them in historical perspective. There are so many things wrong with this country that to take any one commentary out of context and make it personal is to close your mind to reality.

  34. LarryA
    LarryA May 28, 2013 9:40 pm

    Claire, I can’t disagree with anything you wrote. But…
    I suppose I’m remembering Memorial Day with a glass half full. My father and his brothers, and my father-in-law, all fought in WWII. The evil that was Nazi needed stopping, although the Europe of today is a disappointing legacy.
    My father continued as a career officer, and fought in Korea. My mother raised her youngest brother, who became my “big brother” until he was killed in Korea. What that cost my family, and his fiancée, is immeasurable. But the people of South Korea are far better off than they would be under the North.
    What my father was most proud of, in his 20 years, was his tour as the white captain commanding a WWII truck company of black enlisted. He saw it as giving them a chance. Martial success forced many people to see black soldiers as men. More importantly, it taught those young black men the responsibility of carrying a rifle, training racists desperately wanted, and still want, to deny them. That lesson changed the face of the civil rights era.
    What I remember most from my father’s service came later. I was 9 or so when we accompanied him on a tour in Germany. In the mid 1950s there were still bombed-out buildings, but West Germany was rebuilding. Most of the men rebuilding it had served in the German military only a decade earlier. My father reminded us that the war was over. Most of the German soldiers had been in the Wehrmacht, not the SS or the high command. They were warriors, who had served their country as he had served ours. He expected us, as he did, to treat them with respect and honor.
    I tried to carry that with me as an infantry officer in Vietnam, which was a much different war, with a much different outcome. But it wasn’t the young soldiers and officers I fought beside in the jungle that managed to snatch that defeat from the hands of victory.
    So Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day I’ll lift my half-full glass to my comrades. The rest of the year I’ll deal with the bastards that screwed them.
    And teach people how to shoot.

  35. Tin Can Sailor
    Tin Can Sailor May 29, 2013 12:10 am

    IndividualAudienceMembe Let’s try WWII. if the united states hadn’t of stepped in when we did. You would be german or might never have been born. Let’s try that…

  36. Roberta X
    Roberta X May 29, 2013 3:42 am

    It is a day to remember the fallen — and *not* those who pushed ’em. It is a day rather easily taken away from the glib halfwits in office and on television. Why surrender it to the yammerheads?

    To the guy who wrote: “As for “enforced”, well, just try to them that all you like to do during Memorial Day Week-end is to relax and crack open a cool one and not do anything to “honor” those who fell. They’ll look at you like you’ve grown a third eye.”

    If the criticism of the herd bothers you so much over this (so badly you cannot tell it from enforced compulsion), you have got a long, hard row to hoe in many other and more immediately impactful things.

  37. jc2k
    jc2k May 29, 2013 5:47 am

    The way they use the word ‘hero’ these days makes me wonder when the government is going to start offering 72 virgins in cases of death.

  38. Andy B.
    Andy B. May 29, 2013 9:46 am

    I’m not big on super-memorials, but in the past I’ve fantasized about promoting a national memorial to “The Conscripts of All Wars.” The not-necessarily heroes who weren’t given a choice. Claire has just put a crimp in that daydream, because of course we conscripts had no more or no less a lock on virtue than anyone.

    I’ll just add to the comments above, that I too wince at the latter-day cliche’, “Thank your for your service.” Please don’t thank me for something I was given no choice in.

  39. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 29, 2013 1:59 pm

    Tin Can Sailor Says:
    ” Let’s try WWII. if the united states hadn’t of stepped in when we did. You would be german or might never have been born. Let’s try that…”

    Total BS.

  40. Jim B.
    Jim B. May 29, 2013 7:13 pm

    I don’t give a damn about the herd, just telling you what happens.

    Look, I’m all for remembering those who died believing they were fighting for freedom. I believe that’s rarely the case. Remember that there were a lot that were just drafted into service. For those, the choice wasn’t theirs.

    I just believe that Memorial Day has just transformed into government worship day and that’s all, for the most part.

  41. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth May 30, 2013 1:17 pm

    Truly a revealing conversation here. Going into “informal tally” mode, I see only a few distinct types of contribution to the thread. Disregarding those in clear agreement with Claire’s original post, others seem to break out as follows:

    – Non-judgmental contributions featuring alternative ways of looking at the holiday personally, and as if from a deliberate distance. These are illuminating and constructive in just precisely the sort of “individuals sharing ideas” way that makes Claire’s place so appealing in the first place. (And personally, I find it heartening that so many of these seem to come from ex-servicemembers.)

    – Restrained or conflicted disagreement. Many of these also present alternate ways of looking at the holiday, but these often carry an implication that Claire’s (and others’) individual dissents are inherently contemptible to some arbitrary degree. Other than the judgment itself, which differs from case to case, these responses differ from the first category primarily because they seem to imply that dissent itself is somehow contemptible–that somehow there needs to be a common mind about something. (This seems exceptionally ironic when the disagreement is justified with some flavor of the “nobody’s forcing you to celebrate” argument.) Most of these also seem more heavily “invested” whereas the first category seems more “detached”.

    – And, of course, there’s the chapter-and-verse quotations straight out of the “Luv it or leave it” playbook, which, as ever, are just as authoritative as they are creative.

    For me, at least, looking at how things break out that way is really illuminating.

  42. IndividualAudienceMember
    IndividualAudienceMember May 31, 2013 2:13 pm

    Is the word ‘imposed’ another way of saying ‘forced’? Seems to me, Memorial Day is imposed upon many, especially those in the co-ed prison camps called public school.

    “… Glorifying the military and war, relatives bragging about their stint in the military, media extolling the honor and courage of the heroes, schools glorifying “national interest” and shaming children for holding ideas that are selfish (self interested) in any areas. …”

    Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and even The Super Bowl they support the aims of the grand scheme of social conditioning put forth by the Power Elite to further their goals at the expense of the individual and of liberty and freedom. Why would anyone want to be a part of that?

  43. Old Printer
    Old Printer May 31, 2013 10:59 pm

    What is God’s name is wrong with you people? Forget Armistice Day which now has no meaning. Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as it should properly be called is about honoring those who have died in war, specifically the Civil War. 600,000 casualties. We know the history of it, how the widows would cut flowers to decorate the graves of the fallen. My grandfather (you read that right) was a Civil War veteran, wounded at Spotsylvania May 9, 1864, rejoined his company for the siege of Petersburg in June, and was present for the surrender of Lee at Appomattox a year later. Ohio 60th Infantry.
    I take Claire’s shitting on his gave personally.

  44. thebronze
    thebronze June 1, 2013 12:07 am

    Bradley Manning?

    FUCK HIM!! He’s a traitorous piece of shit!!

  45. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein June 1, 2013 4:26 am

    Hey, it’s not every day that someone actually CHOOSES to be the Town Fool! Americans killed by Americans, so that a bunch of looting elite can keep the scam going another century or two? Almost all kids, yet. You wanna decorate and memorialize THAT? Then go right ahead, Printer. I’ll bet not a single person here thinks you shouldn’t memorialize whatever the hell you want. You wanna honor death…death for absolutely nothing decent? Then honor away; your values are your business. Maybe you could grow up and honor their values as they honor yours.

    Nobody shit on his grave. That’s just you living a fantasy. Really, you can go look and see for yourself. Head on over to the grave and check it out; you won’t find any shit there. It’s all in your mind, such as it is.

    Those widows cutting those flowers were honoring the LIVES of their husbands, the men that they loved. Now look at you, 150 years later…scolding people for not honoring their deaths.

  46. Woody
    Woody June 1, 2013 9:08 am

    @thebronze Such an articulate and astute observation. I’m sure everyone on this list will suddenly realize just how wrong they are as a result of your wise and superior counsel.

  47. Old Printer
    Old Printer June 1, 2013 9:12 pm

    Manning knew, like all of us who serve in the military, that divulging classified information is treasonous. He knew what he was doing. I don’t condone the treatment he’s received since, but in a real declared war situation he could have been shot on the spot. Here is what he deserves, after a full Court Martial:

  48. Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume
    Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume June 2, 2013 3:59 am

    My Marine Corps career spanned some 35 years (off and on with a lot of broken and reserve time). I’m a slow learner. It took me 40 plus years after Vietnam and Desert Storm to figure out what had happened to me.

    I didn’t go easy. Went kicking and screaming every step of the way. But I finally had to admit the truth. Nothing I had ever done for the Marine Corps had anything to do with “freedom” in America or “protecting the Constitution” or any of that flag waiving bullshit.

    Everything I ever did for the Marine Corps was all about the aggrandizement of the State and the enrichment of the politicos and their cronies in the military-industrial-congressional-educational complex. I was a dupe.

    Also Claire, it is a tradition at my blog to re-publish “Hey Grimes, What’s up dude?” ( It is a personal story that makes the same point at an individual level that you make at the general level. Such a waste.

  49. velojym
    velojym June 2, 2013 1:15 pm

    But… there’s Barbeque! And lots of flags!!! ….and fewer of those nasty brown people!!!!! 😉

  50. leonard
    leonard June 3, 2013 4:31 pm

    what the gunny said.

    My Marine Corps career was four years. I had reservations and vague ideas about how wrong it all was when I left. After a break in service (as they call it) I had to go and do another 18 years in another branch (as they say) to really learn how wrong I was.

  51. Old Printer
    Old Printer June 3, 2013 7:33 pm

    Some people cower in the darkness and others light a candle. A good example of this is how the Americans of Japanese ancestry handled their ordeal during WW2. Thousands volunteered to defend their country from the internment camps. Through the rank prejudice of an entire country they persevered and shamed us all.
    None of you here, and that especially includes Claire Wolfe, have an ounce what the pioneers who founded this country had, let alone the 100,000 Japanese who were herded into prison camps in the 1940s.
    Shame on you all.
    I’m out of this place.

  52. Brent
    Brent June 5, 2013 2:31 am

    Run (away) in fear, Old Printer.

    Ignorance sure is bliss, huh?

  53. Brent
    Brent June 5, 2013 2:58 am

    I know I am late to this party, but I hardly ever post. Unless I know what I am talking about.

    Tin can Sailor: Got news for ya son, the “USA” did not beat Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union did; with the help of the other Allies Britain and the USA. Hitler did a number on his own self too. Read a book or forty about the EASTERN front of the war. Then get back to me.

    The USA DID beat the snot out of the Japanese. Bombed the hell out of many, many, MANY cities, towns and other “targets”. Almost makes me think that there might be a case for a charge of genocide, if any truth could be dug out of that era.

    ‘Course the Japanese were “forced” into a corner by FDR. You see, he needed justification to “go to war”. So, since the Japanese attacked in the Pacific, the USA went to war with Germany.

    Kinda like how the 911 attackers were 15 saudi arabians, so the USA invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.

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