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Memorial Day

Friday evening I heard on the radio: “There are three things you have to remember–her birthday, your anniversary, and THEIR SACRIFICE FOR ALL OUR FREEDOMS!”

I almost threw up.

American culture typically has problems dealing with the dark side of life, but when applied to death in combat, the banality stinks more than normal.

Most folks don’t know, but “Thank you for your service,” which appears to be a sentence of English words, is actually a series of phonemes from an obscure Amazonian indigenous tongue translating to “Please absolve my guilt for enabling your participation in a series of brushfire wars and the resulting witness of horrors unspeakable in our popular imagination.”

The best possible solemnity for today would be public group readings of Paul Fussells’s Wartime and Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War.

But that’s not going to happen. What’s more likely is that an American soldier, somewhere in the globe, will be killed, in combat or by accident, and have their name misspelled in the newspapers.

In closing, here is Founding Father Benjamin Rush’s 1798 proposal for a Department of Peace.