All those members of the United States military who have perished in service are honored today, as they should be – from the 18 lost in the invasion of Grenada to the hundreds of thousands who fought and died in World War II.
The history of Memorial Day is an interesting read, filled with facts and legends. One of my favorites is that the day’s placement at the end of May was decided so that all America has flowers in bloom to lay on the graves of her war dead. Another is that remembrances take place at 3 p.m. local time around the country. Attending one of these events is a sober reminder of those who we ask, or so tragically force, to go and kill and die for us.
The scandal of Memorial Day is that too many of the memorials have been unnecessary. Too many gravestones are there not because they were needed to secure peace and liberty at home, but instead to advance some interest not found in the Constitution and likely not supported by most Americans, who would only learn the facts later. Once again, we are perhaps on the brink of creating more souls to memorialize and need to think thrice before we do so.
Trump – For or Against War?
President Trump seems quite willing at this time to engage in a war with Iran. He should not, without a declaration of war from Congress. The U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section 8, lays out the enumerated powers of Congress; amongst those are to declare war. Just as Congress should be forced to confine its activity to the powers granted and defined in the Constitution, so should the executive. The fantastically high cost of war, first in blood, then in treasure, is too great for any one person to exercise, be they George Washington, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump.
Trump himself campaigned as an anti-war candidate and succeeded. Not just marginally anti-war, either. During the primary, Donald Trump called the Iraq War both a “disaster” and a “mistake.” In the South Carolina Republican presidential primary debate, he said “We can make mistakes, but that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq.” Talk about speaking truth to power. That a Republican hopeful went on an anti-war screed at a primary debate in South Carolina of all places means Americans are ready for a retreat from the notion that patriotism requires supporting just about any war in which the current commander-in-chief puts us.
War is a Racket
Smedley Darlington Butler must be in the running for one of the greatest soldiers America has ever seen. He was twice awarded the Medal of Honor and at the time of his death was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. He was also a passionate anti-war warrior. He saw the military-industrial complex for what it was back in the 1930s, when he wrote a book called “War is a Racket.” In 1933, he said:
“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.”
Wars of necessity are the only ones we should engage in, and those must be simple enough for all Americans to understand. The young people who will die to be memorialized on our future holidays deserve nothing less. President Trump should reclaim his anti-war posture and save us from unnecessary foreign wars.
Body counts from our ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan can be found here.
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