Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

For someone with my beliefs and political perspective, blogging about Memorial Day may be a no-win situation, and I’d have happily avoided it if I hadn’t read and been deeply repulsed by Bush’s speech at Arlington today, in which he exploited the deaths of servicepersons in the service of his own goals. He quoted the farewell letter of Sgt Michael Evans (which I think means not his last letter, but a letter written to be opened if he was killed): “My death will mean nothing if you stop now.” Bush adds, “And we must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives”. I don’t resent the sentiment coming from Evans; in the mouth of George W. Bush it becomes an obscenity. He’s hiding behind the honored dead.

Here are some more high points from Bush’s speech: “Across the globe, our military is standing directly between our people and the worst dangers in the world... freedom is on the march... blah blah liberty blah”.

What does he mean by worst dangers in the world, by the way? Wouldn’t those be biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, the things Iraq did not have?

The precariousness in rising to protest that bilge is that while I stand in awe of the idealism of those who volunteer to risk their lives in the what they see as the cause of liberty and freedom, I consider them to have been flim-flammed. I do consider Michael Evans’s death to have meant not very much, at least not what he wanted it to mean, and what he had a right to have it mean, if he was going to be sent into harm’s way. There aren’t so many idealistic people in the world, even among the young (Evans was 22), that we can afford to have their idealism canalized into the wrong paths.

Under George Bush, 1,647 soldiers have died, 12,630 wounded.

No, Mr. President, the pretty flowers are not for you.

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