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Remembering the dead

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Today the streets of the United States will be filled with millions of pretty floats, marching bands and (mostly) happy people waving flags and eating ice cream – celebrating yet another Memorial Day.

Perhaps it should be more appropriately named “Tragi Day.” There isn’t really much to “celebrate” about millions of war dead.

Such a parade should be veterans marching with reversed rifles, horses with empty saddles and backward facing stirrups, the marching bands playing only the drumbeat that represents death.  Other marchers should really bring those dead to the parade by reading their names and place of death aloud as they walk. People should stand with silent respect as the sad parade passes.

War, and in particular, wars of choice in foreign countries, are nothing to celebrate, only mourn.

Let’s save the happy floats, cheerful marching bands, flag waving and other joyful expressions for more appropriate occasions like the Fourth of July.

Peace,

Kathleen Mary Tepper

6 comments

Piberman May 30, 2022 at 10:08 pm

K Tepper
You enjoy your envious freedoms because generations were willing to serve their nation to protect our freedoms and liberties. Almost a million Americans perished in the Cvill War deciding the “slave question”. And another million Americans perished in our formal Wars.

Those of us “who have served” are mindful of those “who did not return” and the oft sheer brutality of military life. Protecting those who were privileged to stay home. And like most others who answered the call we oft think about close friends who didn’t return.
Sometimes we think about their loss daily for weeks, months or years without end.

To honor those who did not return and those grievously wounded we best not only honor their sacrifice but work hard day by day to make this blessed land of liberty better and better. Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices told and untold of those who allowed us become Americans. We ought always remember “we can’t do enough for our Veterans”. And if the Memorial Day “celebrations” are too much to bear then consider visiting a Veterans Hospital bringing good cheer. And if you love America as much as those who have served then when our leaders threaten to take us into needless wars yell and protest as loud as you can. Those who didn’t return will appreciate your actions..

Some of us are old enough to remember when WWII ended signs appeared in store fronts all across the nation as follows “Help wanted. Only GI’s need apply”. We’ve sadly lost much of that appreciation. But its worth passing along to our kids. Memorial Day is all about “remembering” and being “thankful” for those who served. Especially those who didn’t return. Scarcely a day of my adult life goes by when I’m not grateful for their sacrifices.

Jeff DeWitt May 31, 2022 at 7:25 am

“Piberman” — I was going to reply to this, but you said it all perfectly. Thank you.

In this year’s Memorial Day parade in Norwalk, the veteran community honored the 18 residents who died in Vietnam with magnets on cars that were driving veterans in the parade. In addition the Marvin Elementary School Girl Scout troop, carried pictures of the 18 also. That’s patriotic leadership that should be emulated across the country.

There can be parades on Memorial Day to celebrate community but at the same time honor the fallen who gave everything for our freedoms. May that tradition continue.

Steve Mann May 31, 2022 at 3:05 pm

Dear Kathleen,

They are not “the dead” They are the fallen. The lives of every fallen US serviceperson should be celebrated for the reasons they put the uniform on in the first place. They did it because the country’s needs were greater than their own. Valor is hard to come by. It requires sacrifice, which not all are willing to offer. We celebrate their valor.

Kathleen Mary Tepper June 1, 2022 at 1:47 pm

How was my letter in any way disrespectful? “Fallen” is merely an euphemism for death on a battlefield, it does not change the fact of death or make it in any less permanent. War is always a tragedy.

Piberman June 4, 2022 at 4:17 pm

To Ms. Tepper:

Re: “War is always a tragedy”.

By some knowledgeable estimates prior to the European “Discovery” the North, Central and Southern Americas were home to between 300 and 400 million Native Peoples having populated the continents for upwards of 10,000 yrs. Yet within a decade of War with the Europeans and diseases perhaps just 1/10th survived. The Discovery of the Americas, viewed by some as the most important event in human history, was birthed in Wars. Everyone of us is the beneficiary of those Wars.

Our pre-Civil War population of the Union, Confederacy and Free States was about 30 million. Some 1 million or 1 out of every 3 Americans perished in that War. We are the beneficiary of that awesome War that took the South a full century to recover from.

Since then we’ve had about a dozen “War’s of Choice” with only one direct attack – Pearl Harbor. And that could have been averted had FDR forwarded Naval Intelligence intercepts of the Japanese fleet to the Pearl Base Commander that their Pacific fleet was on its way possibly threatening Pearl. Had our battleships put to sea the War in the Pacific would have been quite different.

Historians can and do discuss the “merits” of our “voluntary Wars”. But one fact always remains. Its our elected officials who send our sons and fathers into battle. Now that we have an all volunteer military its been far easier to send our troops into battle overseas.
Some of us remember the vigorous national protests re Vietnam. But no protests were mounted subsequently to our other “Wars of Choice”.

It’s a good bet our children will see more “Wars of Choice”. And like our generation with the benefits of an all volunteer military not stage any major protests. And the casualties of those “Wars of Choice” will be remembered mostly by the families of the fallen. It’s not that in your words “war is always a tragedy”. It’s that we as a people never learn or respect the past.

How could we do better. Perhaps by having each newly elected member of the Congress walk over the Wall of Heroes and read out loud the names of those who did not return from Vietnam. When they finish they might have learned about the “tragedy of War” as you so aptly put it. As long as our leaders can easily send others into battle our tragedies will continue.

Finally, Europe and Japan, both of whom were devastated during the War have been far more reluctant to send their troops into battle since V-E and V-J day. Maybe we could learn from them.

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