Making New Memories

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?

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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