Today is the day when the nation pauses to say stupid things about the victims of its pointless imperial wars. A small minority of them, actually.
Traditionally, Americans only memorialize our dead, because those are the ones that matter. The smiling farmkid from Ohio who enlisted to pay for a college education and to get away from farming, who shot up an Afghani opium farmer who’d also love to get away, and was shot in turn – outside the US nobody except the opium farmer’s family care, but the American was a hero. The pilot who drops tons of high explosives, or the gunner who is right now lobbing 155mm HE rounds into Mosul – they’re heroes.
Mark Twain, for all that he was an irascible and outspoken, well-beloved writer, had to be careful what he said. He wrote a piece called “The War Prayer” but didn’t publish it while he was alive, because he knew he’d be criticized for not hewing to the party line on what he was coming to realize was US imperialism. [full text]
“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.
O Lord our God,
help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells;
help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead;
help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain;
help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire;
help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief;
help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst,
sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter,
broken in spirit,
worn with travail,
imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it –
for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord,
blast their hopes,
blight their lives,
protract their bitter pilgrimage,
make heavy their steps,
water their way with their tears,
stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love,
of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.
On this day, I choose to recognize The White Helmets. The volunteer rescue workers of the Syrian Defense Force, who run toward the air-strikes, so they can dig the survivors out of the rubble of “regime change.” (warning: the trailer is intense and disturbing and very moving)
The White Helmets won an Oscar, but the director wasn’t present because – between the Trump administration and Turkey, there were “irregularities” with his passport, he needed a visa waiver, yadda yadda yadda.. Sorry, no, you can’t come. [cbsnews]
Meanwhile, at memorial day in Arlington, Trump said:
“And while we cannot know the extent of your pain, what we do know is that our gratitude to them and to you is boundless and undying,” Trump said to the Gold Star families.
Khizr and Gazala Khan were not invited.
Memorial Day, 2017