Memorial Day Indoctrination

May 28, 2012 by

Arlington National Cemetery

The true meaning of Memorial Day.

This morning, Memorial Day 2012, I was sitting outside on our lanai with baby Aurora and found myself at a loss for words. I wanted to explain to my sweet six month old daughter what her first Memorial Day was really about. The sentence starts like this..

“Memorial Day is a day where we remember…”  and that’s where I found myself stopping. Here are all the things that want to naturally roll off the tongue:

“…the brave men and women who have given their lives for our freedom.”

“…the men and women who died protecting us and our liberties.”

And from Wikipedia.org:

“…a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.”


What’s the problem, you ask? What’s wrong with those statements?  It’s hard to put a finger one… but after some reflection, this is what I told her.

“Memorial Day is a day where we remember our fallen soldiers who died in service of this country. They were brave men and women, many of whom went overseas to fight in foreign wars. We love them and respect them, and give our hearts and our thanks to their families who lost them.”

And then I looked at her innocent eyes, and added in a gentle voice…

“They died because our government put them there. The government didn’t put them there to protect us, to protect our liberties and our “freedom”. They put them there because of a larger agenda that doesn’t necessarily trickle down to you and me at all. That’s what we’re told, but you have to be smart and look past that, which makes their deaths even more memorable and even more of a sacrifice. Grow up and see the truth, not just what you are told.”

“Unless, of course, it’s your mother telling you; then you know it’s true!”

And with a kiss on the nose, she’s officially had her first Memorial Day talk.

What I mean to say here is that I naturally wanted to say that Memorial Day is about remembering those folks who have died to protect us and our liberties and freedom. But that’s not necessarily why they died at all, and it makes me mad that I had such a strong inclination to say those standard lines.  It might not help that I’ve been rereading A Brave New World and all it’s talk of social predestination and synaptic programming.  But still – tell me, doesn’t this post piss you off just a little? Isn’t your first reaction to say that those soldiers DID die to protect our freedoms and our liberties?  Take a few moments and really think about it though. Why were they there?

I usually avoid politics on this blog, and I don’t mean to get into now either. I just had a moment this morning when I realized that “they” (whomsoever THEY is) had gotten to me too, and that the standard lines wanted to roll right off my tongue onto the next generation. I think it’s vitally important that we love and respect the men and women, the people, to whom this day is devoted. But we don’t have to like why they died, or agree with it.

I found this photo today in my Googling, and it brought a tear to my eye. It’s from today, from this soldier’s return home and his first meeting with his daughter.

Young Soldier's First Meeting with his Newborn Daughter on Memorial Day 2012

Young Soldier's First Meeting with his Newborn Daughter on Memorial Day 2012

And I also found this photo below, titled “Memorial Day Sales!”. Now that does piss me off a bit. That’s not what it’s supposed to be about – and do you think any of these children know what Memorial Day is, other than a day for watermelon, barbeques and an excuse to wave the American flag (and a photo shoot)?

Children Eating Watermelon on Memorial Day

Children Eating Watermelon on Memorial Day

Teach your children the truth.

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