Memorial Day 2017

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.


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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


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Several leftie writers, including Max Blumenthal, insist that the White Helmets (or at least major factions thereof) support the jihadis and US intervention while getting cover from western PR flacks.

    So far, I have not found any reliable-seeming on-the-ground sources adequate for forming an opinion, so I post this comment less to contradict our esteemed host than to solicit information from those in better positions to know: Are the White Helmets really white hats?

  2. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#1:
    They are pulling people out of collapsed buildings and trying to save lives. As long as they are focused on that, I don’t see a problem.

    If they begin refusing to rescue people on political or sectarian grounds, that’s another story.
    If they start shooting people, that’s another story.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 2 – Per some of the stories & videos, some WH personnel assist in and cheer for Islamist public executions.

    Hezbollah and Hamas provide other examples of terrorist organizations also providing genuine medical services. Some say the US Army has tried this tactic as well.

  4. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#3:
    Aw, crap.

    Hezbollah and Hamas provide other examples of terrorist organizations also providing genuine medical services. Some say the US Army has tried this tactic as well.

    I was thinking of Hamas when I responded to your initial comment. I don’t have a problem with any organization that is trying to help people in a horrible situation, but I’ve got a big problem with that organization if they are also being destructive elsewhere.

  5. says

    The Indianapolis 500 was run on Sunday, and for the first time a Japanese driver won, 40 year old ex-Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato.

    Terry Frei, (now former) Denver Post writer tweeted that Sato’s win on memorial day made him “uncomfortable” (because of World War II he later tried to “explain”). Thankfully, there was little defence of his stupidity and much backlash. The Denver Post fired him the same day.

  6. says

    Even if the white helmets are there for propaganda purposes, the fact that they are unarmed and provide medical care makes them off limits to direct targeting. Unless it’s shown that they were used to infiltrate area for military purposes (e.g. the CIA’s fake vaccination campaign in Afghanistan), it’s a war crime to target aid workers.

    (ii) Other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during an international armed conflict:

    • making medical or religious personnel, medical units or medical transports the object of attack;

    These violations were the subject of war crimes trials after the Second World War. They are also included in the Statute of the International Criminal Court or, if not replicated in exactly the same terms, are in effect covered, as evidenced by the Elements of Crimes for the International Criminal Court. The war crime “making medical or religious personnel, medical units or medical transports the object of attack” covers aspects of the war crime contained in Article 8(2)(b)(ix) and (xxiv) of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The identification of these violations as war crimes in the Statute of the International Criminal Court was not controversial.

  7. komarov says

    I bet there are lots of events held for this days. The sort of event that might include a short prayer. This would be a fine template for anyone to use, should they be manage to volunteer for the role of chaplain.

    “Now remember to give thanks to your god for all those filled graves, and rejoice in the knowledge that next year, there will be a lot more of them. A lot more, only most of them in distant places. Happy memorial day.”

    Odds are you wouldn’t get to the closing statement, though. The microphone might malfunction expectedly after just a few verses of the prayer. An act of god.