S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day and Conscience

Memorial Day Weekend: conscience calls. This is an important national (holiday?)/three-day weekend. My conscience has been nagging me because I should be posting about the meaning that I make of current related news and events. I have not been able to do so since I started this blog. I could say it has been because I was out of town in May of 2005 and 2006. But that would be a rationalization that avoids the truth, which is I am finding it almost impossible to have anything to say. So I will edge into it with some personal history.

It was called "Decoration Day" when I was a child growing up in Wyoming, perhaps because it was the traditional day families went to cemeteries to clean and decorate the graves where family members rested. The bouquets of choice were vases of lush big purple lilacs, if we were lucky enough to get the blooms that year. It was a personal family day of being properly hushed, of not spilling the water for the bouquets, of avoiding walking on the graves of my grandparents, and of having a wonderful picnic in the park with fried chicken and potato salad. It was never a day I remember as being focused necessarily on memorializing people who died in a war. I do not remember attending any parades with that theme.
I did not have any relatives who I knew that had died in a war. My parents were Republicans and loyal World War II citizens, who would never have protested any of our nation's wars. My closest relative in that war was my favorite uncle, who fought in the Pacific theater, but came home safely. I have since learned that my paternal great-grandfather spent time in a South Carolina prison in the Civil War. As a result he remained a semi-invalid (for whom my great-grandmother fought to receive veteran's benefits) for the remainder of his life. This summer my two sisters traveled to Connecticut to successfully locate those family graves.
So far I feel guilty that my voice has been relatively muted regarding the meaning of this weekend's news and events. But one of the most significant meanings for me came from listening to a house hearing looking into the fallout to our troops of this war that is stretching our Iraq forces to the breaking point. It was chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman; it was on the subject of Military and Mental Health Treatment:
House Oversight & Gov't. Reform Cmte. Hearing on Military Mental Health Treatment
Soldiers and families affected by post-traumatic stress syndrome describe how the military treats mental health problems. The House Oversight and Gov't. Reform Cmte. hearing, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), looks at diagnosis, treatment and tracking methods of the Dept. of Defense & Veterans Administration.
5/24/2007: WASHINGTON, DC:
And I feel a tremendous amount of sadness and anger at the Reuters headline, "Eight more U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq." I feel powerless to do anything except to mourn about it. To quote the horrific stats,
Eight more U.S. soldiers have been killed in five previously unreported attacks in different areas of Iraq over the past four days, the U.S. military said on Saturday.
May is on track to be the bloodiest month this year for U.S. forces, with 101 soldiers killed so far. April was the worst month so far this year for U.S. forces, when 104 soldiers were killed.
A total of 3,452 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Conscienceless? A David Broder Washington Post column encapsulates part of what continues to strike me speechless about the war-making of our current president (OCP). Titled, "A Small Way to Say Thanks?" Broder poses this point,
On this Memorial Day weekend, when Americans pause to think about their debt to the men and women who fight our wars, a battle of a different kind is going on -- a struggle between the White House and Congress over pay for the armed forces.
The difference seems small. President Bush proposed a 3 percent, across-the-board increase for all ranks. The House has passed a 3.5 percent increase, and the Senate, also under Democratic control, seems inclined to go along with the higher figure.
. . . Whatever Congress finally decides to pay the men and women in uniform, we owe them that much -- and more.
Also, some of my favorite bloggers have stepped in and filled the place (between Memorial Day and the war in Iraq) for me with thoughtful posts - with sentiments I can echo. Leaning on fellow bloggers, regrettably, is the best I can do for right now:
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My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Good Second Mondays is about children and summer.


Kitchen Window Woman said...

You "are" doing something by taking time to reflect and write about the unnecessary loss of life results from these wars of choice and profit. This is a beautiful piece. It is sad that many people do not take time to reflect at all.

I remember Memorial Day being more like a holiday when I was a child other than the red paper poppies that we would buy and wear. I also knew that they were supposed to represent those who had died in American wars. It was said, at that time, that the poppies were sold by disabled veterans who were needy. Geez! We didn't take care of our vets even then!

Carol Gee said...

Thanks for your kind words about this post that was so difficult for me to write. And thanks, also for the memory jogger about the red paper poppies. I haven't thought about that neat little part of history since I have been an adult. Nor was I aware enough at the time of the plight of vets back then. It sounds like the seeds of your activism were perhaps planted early. Regards.