Today, in Hawaii, there will be flower leis offered at the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. School children around Hawaii will have made 50,000 leis to be laid by Boy Scouts and others, along with flags, at the 38,000 graves of the Military Cemetery of the Pacific, known as Punchbowl. Today, across America, many will pause to reflect on the meaning of the lives lost in wars, so many wars. Sadly, it is also true that many will not.
If I could be granted a wish on this day, it would be that Americans would ignore the shallow speeches of people in power who send young men to die, yet never have served themselves. Nor to use this holiday as just a long weekend and an opportunity drink beer while watching motor sport, or worse, to drive and waste yet more resources and possibly raise the death and dismemberment toll on the highways. Rather, I would wish us all to reflect deeply on this day. All of us should fly the flag - those who support the concept of war, and those who oppose it, for we are all Americans and the flag belongs to all of us. I refuse to relinquish it to fanatics of any camp.
And while we contemplate the terrible loss of what might have been of the lives of those who served and died, let us also mourn for those innocents of war - far greater in number - whose lives were also sacrificed and ask "what for"? Let us hold to account those politicians and war profiteers who, in their lust for power and profit, use cynical lies to send another generation of victims to an early grave. This is an age old game, my friends, which can be read about in the writings of the Romans and Greeks, as far back as history reaches. Someday it must stop, or humanity will.
I am sure some will criticize my point of view. There is another US war on right now, two actually, that are overt, and at times like this the intollerance of those who believe that war solves problems becomes intense. So be it. I prefer to stand on the shoulders of Thoreau, Twain, Dos Passos, I.F. Stone, Rev. King, and so many others who have said "no" to war and to challenge the economic and political powers-that-be to prove their case and answer for all those whose lives have been lost. Let us learn from history on this day as we offer our gratitude to all those who paid the ulimate price to teach it to us.
Whatever your politcal point of view, philosophy or religion, please use this day to pause and reflect.