[Re-posted from a couple of years ago.]
For me the significance of Memorial Day is the recurring reminder that the story of war is -- or should be -- the story of the people who fight them and not of those that start them or support them from the safety of their homes. Wars begin because of the failures of leaders: their stupidity, their selfishness, their blindness, their need for power. For them, it's at a level far removed from those called upon to respond to their failures; with little if any personal pain, they make decisions for which people will die. Money will be spent. People will be mobilized with thoughts of patriotism, will find themselves chanting the name of their country, convinced that theirs is the just cause, that their survival depends on following those leaders who, by definition, have let them down. I think, particularly, of our succession of undeclared wars, most of which were for questionable or overtly phony purposes. Vietnam, Grenada (what a sick joke), Iraq, even Afghanistan, a message pitch, high and tight, abandoned early for a grand illusion.