Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pray for What?

Memorial Day is not actually a day to pray for US troops who died in action, but rather a day set aside by Congress to pray for peace. The 1950 Joint Resolution of Congress, which created Memorial Day, says, "Requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace."
(64 Stat.158).

I sure as hell didn't know this. Did you? It's from an excellent piece by Bill Quigley in t r u t h o u t today. But that's not the way we see it, with all the wreath-laying and miniature US flags in great profusion everywhere. Indeed, we have made the holiday yet another time to memorialize the troops and not incidentally stoke the patriotic, nationalistic fires that keep us burning with self-righteousness. For example, the prayers we prayed in Church on Sunday were for all of our soldiers who have died "defending our freedoms."

I think not. Now, I'm sure I'd be dragged into the streets and stoned if I pointed out that would be more accurate to pray for all of our soldiers who have died for "whatever US policy was at the time." But all you have to do is take a look at the list of US military interventions across the globe since 1945 (see the Truthout piece). I daresay I would not adjudge a single one of these military insertions into the affairs of other people as necessary for "our freedoms." Which means all of the deaths of the soldiers whom we memorialize in the grave and ponderous language of serious remembrance gave their lives for what the national leadership thought was worth their lives at the time. Oh, they said it was about "freedom" every time, but they lied. Leaders always lie about war, because if they told the truth about why they sacrifice the lives and treasure of the people--for political purposes and to protect American economic interests, almost exclusively--it's they who would be dragged into the streets and stoned by an outraged populace. But you want to sell something, anything, to people? Wrap it in the flag, and drape it with a "Freedom" banner.

My wife and I were at Memorial Day pot luck on Monday. We had prayer and a recitation of the pledge of allegiance to the US flag. The pledge of allegiance at a pot-luck supper??? Give me a break! And we did not do them in that order, by the way. Prayer was secondary to pledge. I prayed, but I don't pledge allegiance to the flag under any circumstances. Haven't for years. Don't sing the National Anthem either under any circumstances.
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