Comment of the Day: “Memorial Day Values And Ethics”

arlington-cemetery-lgPatrice, the author of this two-part Comment of the Day, is a long-time and much cherished friend. She is a strong and thoughtful liberal, but her knees never jerk; she is a Catholic theologian, but honest and realistic about the problems in that Church and others. She’s smart, tough, learned and funny, and I am always honored to have her insight presented here.

Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, Memorial Day Values And Ethics*:

Jack, this is an excellent discussion to be having right now.

I am officially “coming out” as truly ambivalent about all of this. Officially a pacifist, I am also a pragmatist about America policing the world. We MUST do it, and we must do it for all of the values you mention and on which the country was founded. I think that we have allowed America’s “interests” to compromise these values as we act on them. If we engage in policing the world, it can’t be for ANYthing other than protecting people and defeating “evil,” however it is manifested. If America directly benefits from our military involvement, fine and dandy, but that can’t be what motivates the original decision to engage, nor later strategy. We also need to ensure that we entrust the decisions about who/what is evil to intelligent, ethical, objective people. I haven’t seen anyone in the Administration or Congress in decades to whom I could point as good candidates for that job. I am cynical about politicians because they all seem to be more interested in the political game than they are in being true statesmen, even if they might have started out that way. I believe that politics, as we know it today, corrupts.

But I digress. I believe in promoting the ideals of true pacifism as a means toward changing individual hearts minds. It is not a viable policy for a country, though. I believe that we are bound by higher ideals to police the world in the meantime, until all individuals become committed to peace. Of course, that’s a pipe dream and likely won’t happen short of some global catastrophe that “brings the world together.” I can dream, can’t I?

I’m a bleeding-heart Democrat, but I totally support a well funded AND well deployed military. Not sure that we can pull either of those off given the government’s isolationist trends and the loss of our national moral compass.

Oh, and I forgot my original reason for posting. It really depresses me to see what Memorial Day has become. As part of my job, I was stuck on Sunday and Monday as the staff member responsible for our booths at a community “festival.” The festival did include a service of remembrance at the town’s memorial to the fallen, with speeches and a military musical group. But I would venture to guess that the vast majority of people attending the “festival” either knew nothing about that or just didn’t care. This community event is an important opportunity for us to engage the members of the community and help to market our private school. It really is. A worthy organization, The Rotary Club, sponsors this event. But if there were no event, I wouldn’t need to be there. Instead, I could have been down at Arlington National Cemetery visiting the grave of my nephew who died in Iraq in 2007, and the graves of Jack’s parents (which is directly across the street in ANC from where my nephew is buried), and other graves of heroes I have known. Instead of recruiting volunteers to help at the booths, I could have helped recruit volunteers for the Scouts who were down at ANC, placing roses on each grave and greeting family members of the fallen. The original concept of Memorial Day has been vastly reduced in the national consciousness to the day that “kicks off summer.” Frankly, most of our national holidays have lost much of their original attention due to them being “days off” from work, where people just take it as a one-day vacation. Heck, we’ve even turned most of them into commercial opportunities for “Memorial Day Sales,” whether or not it comes from the Democrats (I am ashamed) or just the department stores, etc. Sad. Our human spirit and souls have been diminished.


* In the original post, I noted with disapproval a Democratic Party tweet that reduced Memorial Day to a shopping op. Later, I found an identical tweet from Republicans, but couldn’t find a way to post it. If someone can explain to me how to post tweets on WordPress, I’d be very grateful. I can’t seem to make it work.

8 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Memorial Day Values And Ethics”

  1. Thank you, Jack. I am humbled and grateful that you found what I wrote to be worthy. I just wish I hadn’t had to write that stuff.

  2. I agree fully that the national holidays have been largely turned into an opportunity for businesses to sell more products and for people to enjoy an extra day of work. I think the percentage of people who actually go to a Veterans cemetery and put poppies on graves or attend Memorial Day concert is at a record low. Hopefully Americans will support the need to be the world’s policeman. Even pacifists can join the armed services and be medics as they did in large numbers in ww2 and the Vietnam War.

  3. We don’t often agree…. But it’s refreshing to have the other side’s reasoning put out there honestly, and the times we do agree tend to be profound.

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