So here in the states it is Memorial Day Weekend. It is a time when, in order to commemorate our honored dead, we go out to ball games, car races, beaches, and lakes while huge numbers of us guzzle enough beer to keep a dozen breweries profitable.
There will be ceremonies held at different venues. The sad lament of "Taps" will be played on bugles and little American flags will flutter at innumerable grave sites. The attendance at these rites will be sparse compared to the multitudes swilling brewskies in the bleachers, but hey it is a free country, right?
If we know anything about the republic it is that we will never have a shortage of war dead. We don't make a lot of things any more, but we are extremely efficient at rolling out that product. The United States doesn't outsource dead soldiers, sailors, and marines. There will always be some crisis that calls for us to sacrifice our sons and daughters in far away places that shouldn't mean squat to us. We will place our hands over our hearts as the coffins are carried out of planes and tell each other that mangled corpses are the price of freedom.
Other than the bitter divisiveness at the end of the Vietnam conflict and then in the months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington war has had no daily impact on us for 67 years. Unless you have a child, or spouse serving in the military the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has nothing to do with how you conduct your life. There is no food, water, or gas rationing. There aren't any power outages. There aren't any bombs falling. We might be inconvenienced by a few security checks at airports and stadiums, but we aren't concerned that Iraqi tanks will come rumbling down the street firing indiscriminately. There won't be any Taliban helicopters strafing shopping mall parking lots. War has become such an abstract to the American public that we go along with sending troops anywhere for any reason without blinking an eye or asking the simple question, why. We don't love it, we just don't hate it enough because it doesn't hurt the vast majority of us.
War is sometimes an evil necessity. Sadly, for us, it has become an evil habit. A habit that we simply don't want to kick. Too many of us equate a willingness to go to war with patriotism. Too many of us take pride in a high body count off in some foreign land. Too many of us believe war should be the first option rather than the last.
Yes, some of us will honor the dead this weekend while many won't even give it a second thought. All the weekend means for millions is that there is an extra day off from work and summer has officially begun.
Why dwell on something as grotesque as war and death. After all, it really is far away and right here and now the brats are on the grill, the pool is open, and the party is on.
Or, as the great philosopher, Alfred E. Newman said, "What, me worry?"