Making New Memories

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American History, Bush Administration, Iraq War

Memorial Day “is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service,” it says here. No doubt some new memories will be made today. As of Saturday, 102 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq in May, which brings the U.S. death toll to about 3,445.

Today all over the blogosphere righties are gushing about “honoring” fallen soldiers. At the same time, they remain among the last visible props of a war creating more fallen soldiers to “honor.” Michelle Malkin is worked up into a snit today (as she is every day) because some people (hint: Democrats) don’t know how to “honor” soldiers properly. It seems the proper way to “honor” the fallen is to swoon over how heroic and decent and honorable they were. On the other hand, she says, Bill Richardson is not swooning properly, even though as governor he helped bring about a significant increase in the death benefits that went to the families of National Guard.

Somehow I think the families would just as soon have the cash than more rightie drool. Of course, what they really want is to have their loved one alive and home again, but then who would Michelle Malkin swoon over?

* * *

The 101st Fighting Keyboarders have plenty to celebrate today. The Associated Press reports that “Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling — and expected to rise in coming months.”

Righties often claim we who oppose the war “dishonor” the troops because we do not support the war in which they are dying. The troops and the Cause are so fused in their minds that one cannot be separated from the other. To some, troops are not individual human beings, but just abstractions in their collective glorious jingoistic fantasy that they mistake for patriotism.

We see the fantasy in this post by rightie blogger Dean Barnett, who took offense when Nancy Pelosi referred to soldiers as “young people” and an honored fallen soldier as a “young man.” “[T]he failure to use the word ‘soldier’, ‘Marine’ or any other term that acknowledges a connection between [Marine Corporal Jason L. ] Dunham and the military is borderline grotesque,” Barnett wrote.

In other words, to acknowledge that a fallen soldier was young (Marine Corporal Jason L. Dunham was 22 years old when he died; seems young to me), that he was a person, that he was a man, that he had a life separate from the military, that he was flesh and blood, and had hopes and sorrows and expectations and vulnerabilities like the rest of us, is borderline grotesque.

Barnett likes his soldiers plastic and pliable. He likes them indistinguishable from the Mission.

(I’d like to add that this is the same Barnett who wrote recently in the Boston Globe that he is opposed to abortion because fertilized eggs are people. I guess sentience is in the eye of the beholder.)

The hawks are forever shrieking about how we could win in Vietnam Iraq if only we liberals would clap our hands and believe in fairies stop undermining troop morale. I’d like to see the rest of us — the two-thirds of the nation that has seen through the lie — turn around and lay every death, every wound, every broken marriage, every busted up life, at the feet of the hawks, and say Look at this. This is your doing. Are you still so proud of what you accomplished?

If I were them, I’d want to pretend soldiers are plastic toys, too.

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If you want to see grotesque, read this:

On Monday, Bush will mark his sixth Memorial Day as a wartime president with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. He is to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns to honor those who have died in past and current conflicts.

The Creature isn’t worthy to set foot in that cemetery, much less prance around over it and pretend to be a war leader.

The Creature also urges Americans “to rededicate themselves to fighting for freedom around the world.” Good advice. In fact, that’s why I blog. And as long as Bush is in the White House, we we who are dedicated to fighting for freedom around the world have a job to do to pry him out of it.

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In last year’s Memorial Day post I wrote briefly history about my family’s military history, which goes back to the American Revolution. Since then, an uncle has told me that my great-great grandfather William Gillihan was a Confederate, not a Yankee. He wanted the record corrected. My understanding was that WG (who died shortly before the war ended) was a volunteer in an Indiana regiment, but perhaps I was mistaken. That still leaves me with two other “great-greats” who fought for the Union.

The other update is that my nephew, Maj. Robert John Thomas, is now in Baghdad.

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Some other stuff to read today:

David Carr, “Not to See the Fallen Is No Favor

James Carroll, “Sacrifice, pain, and grief”

Adam Cohen, “What the History of Memorial Day Teaches About Honoring the War Dead”

Michael Kamber, “As Allies Turn Foe, Disillusion Rises in Some G.I.’s

Gary Kamiya, “Memorial Day”

Fred Kaplan, “Bush Bungles a Press Conference

Paul Krugman, “Trust and Betrayal” (also here)

Donna St. George, “Another Memorial Day Marks Grief’s Journey

Washington Post editorial, “Remembering Americans of many nationalities

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8 Comments

7 Comments

  1. R. Porrofatto  •  May 28, 2007 @1:38 pm

    The Barnett post is truly nuts. Here’s a guy named George (and his wife!) who continually makes the same borderline grotesque offense.

  2. bruce  •  May 28, 2007 @3:54 pm

    I wrote this to the guy who said Pelosi’s comment was borderline grotesque:

    Perhaps it is beyond your superhuman warrior powers to comprehend, but a 22-year old male IS a young man. Or if you (were 22 and) had your brains blown out, would you prefer that I called you a “young man” or a “chest-thumping warmonger”? I believe they both would apply.

    If it is “borderline grotesque” for a grandmother and 3rd in line to the Presidency to show a smidgen of empathy by calling a soldier a “young man”, then the people like you who seem to prefer mindless military adventure over strategic foreign policy have lost all perspective or ability to rationally look at what is really in the best interests of this country. When your point of view rules the day (thankfully it’s at about 23% in the polls now), the terrorists will have won.

  3. No More Mr. Nice Guy!  •  May 28, 2007 @4:35 pm

    It always kills me how rightwads rant and rave that we must “honor the fallen” by continuing to shovel cannon fodder into Iraq for the greater glory of Halliburtonblackwaterbechtel’s bottom line and ensuring there will be an endless stream of more fallen. On the other hand, when the reality-based community points out that the US has no chance of winning another country’s civil war, that the Bushists are cutting the troops’ pay and health care, extending their tours of duty and even feeding them spoiled food, and that we don’t have enough troops or equipment left over here to repsond to natural disasters, somehow that’s dishonoring the troops, committing treason, waving the white flag to Al Qaeda, yada yada yada. What planet to those sheeple live on? Anyway, best of luck to your nephew – may he come home in sound mind and body.

  4. felicity  •  May 28, 2007 @6:10 pm

    Didn’t someone once say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel? I got out my Thesaurus – SCOUNDREL; villain, SOB, bastard, dog, knave, creep, rat…About says it all.

    Power certainly can corrupt but for those not in power it is fear that can corrupt, and fear is blatantly evident in the language of self-identified right-wingers. However they may rationalize it into “I support the troops…” they’re coming from “the troops are keeping it out of my backyard.”

  5. felicity  •  May 28, 2007 @6:10 pm

    Didn’t someone once say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel? I got out my Thesaurus – SCOUNDREL; villain, SOB, bastard, dog, knave, creep, rat…About says it all.

    Power certainly can corrupt but for those not in power it is fear that can corrupt, and fear is blatantly evident in the language of self-identified right-wingers. However they may rationalize it into “I support the troops…” they’re coming from “the troops are keeping it out of my backyard.”

  6. erinyes  •  May 28, 2007 @9:21 pm

    When I was a kid (1967), my friend Gordon and I discovered that if we took our plastic toy soldiers up to the 2nd floor balcony, lit them on fire, & let the molten plastic drip over the railing, It made a really cool sound as the flaming plastic fell through the air.
    That summer, we wasted several large bags of plastic soldiers entertaining ourselves, a bloody summer indeed.

  7. Swami  •  May 28, 2007 @10:22 pm

    ” Our duty is to ensure that its outcome justifies the sacrifices made by those who fought and died in it.”

    I think our duty is to insure that the cause justifies the sacrifice, not the outcome.

    Bush is a sick piece of shit who exalts death over truth to justify his lies. I don’t know who his present speechwriter is, but he is clearly trying to capture the spirit of Lincoln..only problem is, it can’t be done without capturing the spirit of truth and sincerity. A metaphysical firewall that Bush’s lies can never penetrate. The bible says, Satan can appear as an angel of light..what it forgot to say was that Satan can appear as a presidential bag of shit also.

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