Monday, May 27, 2013
Remembering Memorial Day
Memorial Day is without a doubt the most solemn of tri-part recognition of the military (the other two being July 4th---Independence Day, and Veteran's Day, November 11th). The focus of Memorial Day is recognize and remember all the heroes who put themselves in harm's way and paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Some 1,196.793+ have lost their lives so you can live in relative freedom and enjoy everything that goes with it. To that, you can the 3.5 million disabled veterans, of which I am one.
Memorial Day, known originally as Declaration Day, has been around in various incarnations since at least 1861. It became an official day of recognition on May 26th, 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the proclamation, which also recognized Waterloo, New York as its "official" birthplace. On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved four holiday to last Monday of the month in which the holiday occurred (the others were Washington's Birthday, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day).
Looking at the current state of our nation, I have to wonder, was it worth it? No one can doubt the most of our wars were just, though some were not (such as the wars---some would say genocide---against the Native Americans) and many were forced on us, but that's not my point. We were a nation born out of revolution. We were the British who Paul Revere warned the citizens of Boston about on April 18, 1775 (he actually said "the troops are coming") along with two other riders, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott. It was us, as British subjects who rebelled against our mother country, England, over the issue of taxation and yet we've become a nation of unequal and many would argue, unfair taxation. To that, our rebellion against "Mother" England stemmed from our lack of having a voice in Parliament over not just taxes, but over a whole range of issues. Much the same can be said about average Americans today. Washington seems to be about the rich and connected, and especially the powerful corporations, who, thanks to the "Citizens United" misruling by the Supreme Court, has determined the artificial entities--the corporations--have a greater and more influential voice than the citizen voters. Our vote has been watered down to almost a meaningless act thanks to partisan (bipartisan actually) gerrymandering of districts which, in effect, rig elections and a suppression in voter turnouts.
Many of our Founding Fathers, especially Samuel Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Henry, Franklin, Morris, and others, told us that our newly created democratic Republic was a fragile thing; hard fought to win but ever so easily lost without an active and vigilant citizenry. Yet, so few of us bother to vote (usually under 52% in Presidential elections--still controlled by a Electoral College, and under 47% in most Congressional elections ), which begs the outcome as outlined in the above paragraph. Approval ratings for Congress remain under 15% and for most presidents, under 50%. Yet, our vote remains, for now, our most powerful weapon against the creeping corporate fascism of our Federal government. But if we don't use this tool against tyranny, how much longer will we have it to use?
A new crop of patriots have emerged to argue that we must somehow fight back like our Founding Fathers and the Sons of Liberty said we have both the right and duty to do. So adamant were they, they even told us how and gave us the instruments to do it with in Constitution, Bill of Rights, and in their collective writings. Yet, our ambiance and tendency to focus on the moment, has allowed undemocratic or misguided powers to restrict or forbid us from acting as our Founders told us too; making it nearly illegal to criticize the government, be it in the form of government censorship, attempts at increased gun control and restrictions, monitoring and intelligence gathering of the press and average citizens, use of Presidential "emergency power" acts like the Homeland Security Act---Executive Directive 51, the National Defense Authorization Act. There are many indirect tools of intimidation such as misuse of the IRS, the FBI, Department of Justice, or any of the other alphabet federal agencies. Of course, I'm just touching on a few points. Much more can, and should be added, but one wonders what would our Founders say about their creation if they could see it as it is today? How would they act toward it? Would they be proud of what they created, or would they have wished they had simply paid those damn taxes and accepted the dictates of the Mother Country?
Memorial Day, perhaps of all our cherished national holidays, should serve to remind us what a chosen few have given so that every citizen could have a right and a duty to question, challenge, and if necessary, to restore our country so that our children and grandchildren can truly have an opportunity to live and thrive in a nation that could once boast of as "land of the free and home of the brave". Don't let their sacrifice have been made in vain.
American Veterans By the Numbers
It's Official: Presidency Now a Dictatorship
The Modern Presidency is Dangerously Close to an Elective Dictatorship
What would Our Founding Fathers Think of America Today?