Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

This is the day most associated with the beginning of summer, days at the beach, and a nice 3-day weekend after 3-4 straight months of full work-weeks. But it is REALLY the day to reflect upon the sacrifices of our war dead, what they accomplished and the bravery, strength and determination they showed on behalf of themselves, their loved ones and this nation.

Today, there is a loss of perspective regarding war, sacrifice, duty, honor and patriotism. Mark Steyn puts some of this into perspective:

All wars are messy, and many of them seem small and unworthy even at the moment of triumph. The unkempt lice-infested Saddam Hussein yanked from his spider hole last December is not so very different from the Jefferson Davis captured in May 1865 while skulking away in women's clothing, and thereafter depicted by gleeful Northern cartoonists in hoop skirts, petticoats and crinolines.

Conquered and captured, an enemy shrivels, and you question what he ever had that necessitated such a sacrifice. The piercing clarity of war shades into the murky grays of postwar reconstruction. You think Iraq's a quagmire? Lincoln's ''new birth of freedom'' bogged down into a centurylong quagmire of segregation, denial of civil rights, lynchings. Does that mean the Civil War wasn't worth fighting? That, as Al Gore and other excitable types would say, Abe W. Lincoln lied to us?

* * *

But that's the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screwups worth re-examining, but they weren't a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn't lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.

There is something not just ridiculous but unbecoming about a hyperpower 300 million strong whose elites -- from the deranged former vice president down -- want the outcome of a war, and the fate of a nation, to hinge on one freaky jailhouse; elites who are willing to pay any price, bear any burden, as long as it's pain-free, squeaky clean and over in a week. The sheer silliness dishonors the memory of all those we're supposed to be remembering this Memorial Day.

Read his whole editorial here.

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