Memorial Day for Team Empire
May 30, 2005
The American flags, parades, and tributes on Memorial Day seem nostalgic in years when the focus is on wars gone by. But this year, as we endure the deepening crisis in Iraq, with no clear end in sight, it is a holiday full of mixed feelings.
For Democrats and progressives who oppose the war, defensiveness about appearing not to support the troops makes patriotic holidays especially sticky.
But as more and more Americans--and more and more military families--are critical of this war, supporting the troops and opposing their mission seem less in conflict.
Air America's lead story on Memorial Day was a tribute with the names, pictures, and circumstances of the 1,831 coalition soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. It calls to mind the Bush Administration's suppression of coverage of returning caskets and outrage at Nightline last year for airing the names and pictures of dead American soldiers.
"This Memorial Day, we remember ... all who have given their lives for our nation. And we honor them as we continue to wage the war on terror and spread freedom across the world," Bush said in his Memorial Day radio address.
Here in the Midwest, where the weather is beautiful, backyard barbeques and picnics kick off the summer, and the world seems peaceful and cheerful, it is easy to overlook the ominous undertone in those trite-sounding words. "We continue to wage the war on terror and spread freedom across the world."
For our sake, a new kind of war is raging. As I am playing with my kids at the park, neighbors wave from SUV's. And across the world from us, we continue to "spread freedom." We continue to be involved in a war with no borders, no clearly defined enemy, no rules. We read the paper in the morning, learn about torture and riots and deepening hatred. Then walk down the street past all the flags, to eat hotdogs.
If we listen to the Bush Administration's admonitions that we must support the troops and support our President in this new, perpetual wartime, we are all on the team. Team Torture. Team Empire.
It casts a shadow over this beautiful day, makes me look at the shining faces of the children, the neighbors, the whole, happy scene, and feel a kind of nostalgia for the present that comes out of a deep, unspoken worry.