28.5.07

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. The day we honor those soldiers who have died at war. Mike H over at LIB wrote up a nice post explaining what Memorial Day is all about. I'm not going to dispute any of that. Rather, I'd like to wax philosophical for a moment; instead of asking "What?" I am going to ask "Why?" None of this is to demean anything Mike or any other soldier has done. Again, I am not challenging the what, only the why.

From the Veteran's Affairs Canada-
Why Remember?

We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument.


Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? Why do we feel the need to honor fallen soldiers? Isn't this just a way of glorifying war? By saying that the greatest thing a man can do is to die for his country, we are encouraging men to do the same. We are perpetuating this cycle of war, of death.

Did the soldiers of past wars die hoping that their deaths would inspire others to go to war? Or did they hope they would be the last?

I know the saying: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But do we still need to memorialize war? Is is an unchangeable, unending part of humanity? Should it be celebrated, or viewed as a deplorable last resort? Is this Sparta? Or is it just madness?

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