We must not trivialize the sacrifice of those who serve

There was a time when soldiers went to war, and the community went with them; virtually every township and neighborhood had a family member in uniform.

Sacrifices both personal and corporate were distributed throughout the community. It would take a modern day Diogenes to find an honest sacrifice at a community level.

In the 21stcentury undeclared wars of assimilation, there is a dwindling level of support and sacrifice for the actual war effort. “Thank you for your service” is not a verb. Ironically, the American morale is at an all-time high, yet we are in a total state of disconnect from the conduct of war and its combatants. For the most part, war has been scrubbed from the news. 

God forbid we have another TV war like Vietnam. Better to be heard and not seen.

The April 1966 cover of Time Magazine had red lettering over a black background that simply asked, “Is God Dead?” The phrase was immediately misunderstood, losing much of its intention to inform us that we had lost the symbolic language of God and thereby lost the experience of God in our daily existence.

Is it possible the War is Dead in America?

Plato said: “Only the dead know the end of war.” Yet how will one know the memories of war and its dead if not through the living who have borne the battle?

Without a syntax for war, its meaning dies before the soldier.

Mark Thompson, in a November 2011 article for Time Magazine, suggested that our Armed Forces and civil society are drifting apart. Nearly eight years ago! His characterization of “an Army apart” is accurate and confirmed by active duty troops.

We now have a highly trained population of professional military volunteers who have been continuously at war for over 18 years, yet they represent only 0.05% of Americans serving in the Armed Forces since before WW1.

Our volunteer combatants are primarily young men and women from the median to lower socio-economic strata. The upper crust of American society are mostly “AWOL” from war, yet they make the decisions about war efforts.

In the 1970s, 77% of our lawmakers and their staff were veterans. With a recent ebb, that percentage has slipped back to about 21%. The rigors and residuals of war and its collective ongoing costs are pretty much not on the radar of our elected officials.

On this Memorial Day, we reverently march on with profound respect and honor for all Americans who have died in battle from Concord to Korengal Valley.

However, it may be time to refresh our memories of war itself, and the consequent sacrifices that are charged to a citizenry adhering to the constitutional dictum “to provide for the common defense.”

The day-to-day reality of providing for the common defense begs to be memorialized on this day, so as to not trivialize the sacrifices of those who died for the common good.

On Memorial Day, the American flag is swiftly run up to the top of the staff, then quietly and reverently lowered to half-mast in recognition of the millions who gave their last measure of devotion for this land of the free and home of the brave.

It is up to all of us to insure they did not die in vain. Save the annual concert on the mall in DC, let’s silence all carnal and political news for the entire day. 

The dead will hear us.