Memorial Day Tributes

Posted by Katherine | May 28, 2008 – 12:13 pm

For the presidential candidates, Memorial Day was an opportunity to talk about Iraq. It’s less clear that Wijadi had a specific message about this war when he joined a number of other Flickrites for a walk through Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But intentional or not, the light and shadows in Wijadi’s photo evoke a tribute to the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans buried there:

Gravestones at Fort Snelling National Cemetery
[Slowtypist / Flickr]

Eric created a very deliberate tribute to the troops he believes are fighting and dying for his freedom (thanks, Sue Salinger). Eric’s grandfather was a WWII vet, and his father served in Vietnam; although Eric resisted military recruiters to focus on art, he made this video because he feels he owes the life he lives to the sacrifice of others:

Juan Cole, history professor at the University of Michigan and indefatigable chronicler of the Iraq war, marked Memorial Day with a straight-up account of the day’s casualties:

In a grim Memorial Day reminder of the risks facing US troops in Iraq, two sets of guerrillas used roadside bombs to kill and wound GIs on Monday. Sunni Arab guerrillas hit a US convoy in Salahuddin Province, killing one and wounding 2. Then in southern Iraq, a dissident Shiite group blew up a US vehicle in Qadisiya province southeast of the holy city of Najaf, also killing one and wounding 2.

Milo Thornberry in Bend, Oregon, spent half of Memorial Day trying to write something about it. He found he couldn’t. Here’s why:

To begin with, I watched a short video about a young mother and her two daughters preparing “care” packages for the husband and father in Iraq, and then later footage when she receives word of his death, and the continuing grief in the family. I was reminded of the grief for which there is no consolation for so many families because of this war. Then, I read an article in our local newspaper about all of the young men and women from central Oregon who have been killed in the war this past year. I thought not only the grief of families for dead loved ones but for the many living but who will never be the same.

I do not want to add any measure of grief to what they already are experiencing, but neither do I want the holiday to pass without registering my protest that these dead and living are victims of policies that have little or nothing to do with freedom, Iraqi or ours in this country. I cannot believe that the brave and patriotic faces these families put on tell the whole stories of their doubts about the validity of their loved one’s sacrifices.

Thornberry, in his blogger profile, says, “Writing fiction is my passion, but realities–war, loss of human rights and civil liberties, destructive social and environmental policies, and yes, national elections–intrude on my solitary pursuit.” Maybe this makes him a less efficient fiction writer, but surely it’s the mark of an engaged citizen.


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