Post Memorial Day Thoughts: War, A Necessary Violence?
Memorial Day is one of those holidays that so many forget why we even have it. They just know that they are getting a day off (for most, anyway). I'd be curious what kind of answers we'd hear from the public majority if asked "Why are the flags at half-mast today?" On the other extreme, I do think that there are a number of people that experience "Memorial Day" every day. My great-grandfather was one of them. I can't remember a time that would go by that he didn't speak on the days of war. So often I see veterans displaying their battalion on their ball caps and it's amazing the connection that happens when a fellow vet recognizes the name and strikes up a conversation. It's quite sobering actually because inevitably the conversation ends up reminiscing of the friends that died in war.
For me, Memorial Day doesn't have to occur just once during the year. It happens every time I visit the D-Day Memorial or Arlington National Cemetery (where one of my grandfathers is buried) and even now when I read the news of the war in Iraq. It happens when I see a man or woman in uniform. It's good to have a National Holiday that recognizes those that died for our country, a battalion, a team, or an individual. It seems that [we] live in such a mad-rush of life that we forget to remember. It’s important to slow down and remember.
I think that everyone should watch "Saving Private Ryan" to understand the complexities, trials, and hardships of war. If you are a native of Bedford, VA there’s a big chance that one of your relatives died on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. One of the features about this movie is that it depicts the whole gamut of war - from those that experienced it at the sidelines to those that were in the trenches.
I had a friend say to me recently, "The military is about killing and making people willing and able to kill another person." However, it is also about protection. So I ask myself, "Is war a necessary violence?" If someone is willing to lay down their life so that I might live then how selfish am I to deride them for doing their job? Here's a thought to chew on...using the words fashioned by Forrest Gump, "War is as War does." War is only as good or bad as the people that organize it.