Today is Memorial Day, yet so many in our country haven't the faintest clue what that means other than it is a three day weekend. This in and of itself is disturbing, however, there is something I find far more offensive. There is an undercurrent of jackassery flowing throughout this nation, not dissimilar to the pink ooze flowing under New York City in Ghostbusters 2. On the surface there is the bright, shiny smile of patriotism (the Statue of Liberty), yet when you look inside, it is filled with the pink ooze of falsehood holding together the entire facade.
The particular jackassery I am speaking of: Thanking veterans on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, began sometime after the Civil War to remember those who died fighting in it. After World War 1 it became a day for remembrance for all people who died during a time of war in service to America. Post Vietnam the country became less enthusiastic about supporting the military and patriotism lost its appeal. In 1971 the day of remembrance was changed from May 30th to the last Monday in May to ensure a three day weekend. The following decades lacked a simple, definable enemy that had united America in almost all previous wars and Memorial Day started losing its meaning. Towards the end of the millennium the numbers of living veterans of the World Wars had dwindled significantly, leaving most of America to only think about them when reading a textbook or watching a movie. While many people still remembered why Memorial Day existed, its true meaning was preserved by few.
Muslim extremists gave America the enemy it needed to raise patriotism back to the virtue it was only couple generations prior. While many would argue the need or justification of the wars America was engaged in, support for the troops was almost a universal constant. On Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Patriot Day, the Fourth of July, etc... Americans would gather and rejoice at winning the birthplace lottery and thank those who helped supply them with the freedom and security they enjoyed every day.
Today, not even eleven years past, and already Americans have forgotten what Memorial Day is about. Over the last decade they've become practiced hands at faking their patriotism to a point that it's second nature to spew forth a meaningless "I thank the troops for their sacrifice" without even connecting it to any meaning whatsoever.
Six thousand four hundred and sixty one United States citizens have died fighting the War on Terror and yet today, on the one official day a year set aside to remember those brave souls who gave everything for us, people haven't a clue how it is different than any other day.
So today, when put on your red, white, and blue mask in an attempt to once again fool everyone into believing in your pretension, I am calling you out. You do not care about the troops and you certainly don't care about those who have given their life. If you truly did, you wouldn't be thanking a veteran, you'd be remembering the ones who didn't come home. You'd be comforting the families of those we've lost. You'd be understanding what the word memorial means.
R.I.P. You are gone, yet never forgotten.