Memorial Daze: Quandary of Empire
Editor’s Note: At a time of two unfinished wars halfway around the world, Memorial Day’s focus on the sacrifices of men and women who have gone to war for the United States is stirring up a different mix of emotions than usual.
More and more Americans are torn between their desire to show respect for the sacrifices that these soldiers made and the broader concern that the United States is behaving like a global empire, a quandary that Philip A Farruggio addresses in this guest essay:
Hitler’s German army invaded and occupied Poland. Many soldiers were killed. The Japanese invaded and occupied Nanking and Shanghai. They had many soldiers killed. The same for the British when they occupied India and Palestine.
The local populations did not wish to be occupied by foreigners, especially ones with loaded guns pointed at their faces.
The Indians of the plains did not take well to our cavalry and forts. Many of the young U.S. troops were slaughtered at Little Big Horn, because they were seen as invaders.
The people of Germany, Japan, Britain and the United States mourned those soldiers killed while occupying foreign soil, and rightly so. Yet, to honor them does an injustice to the victims of their occupation.
Why? Well, in all the above instances, those nations illegally occupied the countries and territories mentioned. So, to honor a soldier that is used for such heinous acts is an injustice to both the memory of him and the memory of the victims of such assaults.
I find it strange that, now, in 2010, my town (and countless others) has decided to construct a Veterans Memorial in our city center. What they are doing is to take those who fought for defense of our nation in World War II and bundle them with those who were used to extend the U.S. empire in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.
All those brave young men (and women) were shipped to those places to fight not for our defense or liberation, rather to keep this newest of empires churning. We now have over 780 military bases in almost 100 countries.
I ask how would you like it if the Chinese had a military base in your town? How would you like to see Chinese troops, tanks, weapons, all staring in the faces of your family, friends and businesses? You know you wouldn’t like it.... And you shouldn’t want it.
Well, what about those citizens being occupied? Are they less human than you? So, when a town decides, during the height of not one, but two major US illegal occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, to build such a memorial, I question it.
Over 4,400 of our soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Now the focus shifts to Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 have died. Not to mention how many of the other soldiers lose legs, arms, eyes, genitals, and their minds (check out the skyrocketing suicide rates) during these occupations.
Then, those of you out there who still maintain some sort of humanity, turn your attention to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians destroyed by the U.S. Army and Air Force.
The drinking water supplies ruined, electrical grids not functioning, hospitals under equipped and understaffed.... Food shortages.... Crops and arable land destroyed... Depleted uranium slowly sucking the life out of tens of thousands. Need I go on?
All for ... lies and empire! So I say, you wish to put up memorials? Great idea. How about a memorial for all the victims of aggression and oppression, which includes our brave young soldiers?
You see, to simply wave that flag, or wear it on your lapel or car, is not enough. To read the names of the dead soldiers is not enough. There needs to be a shift in consciousness by our neighbors and our community.
People need to understand that our towns and cities are broke because nearly 50 percent of U.S. federal taxes go to pay for costs associated with War Spending (aka Defense Spending). As long as our fellow Americans accept that and say nothing, the empire continues to eat up the world and itself!
Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen. He is an activist leader and free lance columnist. Since the 2000 elections, he has written over 150 columns , many posted on various sites worldwide. Recently, he is finding a home at www.dandelionsalad.wordpress.com , or at his own blog at www.opensalon.com . Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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