A quick trip around the web in a free country is an eye-opening experience. The flood of information; the deluge of differing opinions, beliefs, and truths quickly illustrates the notions of both diversity and transparency. The Rational Middle believes it is an obligation of free citizens to question the nation’s participation in conflict, but we in The RM also acknowledge our ability to participate in this discourse is directly related to those Americans who have died in all of our national conflicts. They make both the quick trip, and the diversity of information possible.
During my latest trip, the most common references I have read on Memorial Day have been contradictory. The RM has touched on the day before (here and here), but the differing opinions by service personnel and the extended families of those lost is (to my eyes) a change. For many, the notions of celebrating Memorial Day, of wishing someone Happy Memorial Day, are painful and offensive. For others, the acknowledgement and celebration are fitting and long-awaited. So how do we reconcile these two competing ideals; how do we embrace the holiday without hurting those we celebrate?
We start the way we always must in The Rational Middle; we start by knowing the facts. Memorial Day is not an acknowledgement of veterans in general, although sadly there are no veterans I know of nowadays who don’t have a fallen brother or sister on their mind this day. Memorial Day is the time to contemplate, to recognize, to pay respect to those who have died in service to our nation. Memorial Day is the time to acknowledge, and provide solace and support to, the families of those taken in service. Some will embrace the celebration, others would rather make a silent note; all should know the numbers.
In 74 conflicts, beginning with the Revolutionary War, 1,343,812 Americans who been killed, and 1,529,230 have been wounded. These numbers will go up. These bald numbers are our focal point, around which an extended network of damaged families and saddened friends exists. They are who we recognize, and in our own way and with dignity celebrate, on this Memorial Day.
The Rational Middle is listening…