Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

My father died of WWII over twenty years after the conflict ended.  He came home from North Africa with what was diagnosed as Rheumatic Fever – somewhat problematic in the days before microbiology had come into its own and was capable of succinctly identifying microbes.  Nonetheless, his heart valves were destroyed.

In the early 60’s he had a procedure known as a Mitral Commissurotomy, an opening of the valve to relieve stenosis. The year that I graduated from high school, he and two of his buddies suffering from the same condition were issued medication for the following three months.  The medication was called back well into its course.  By March of the following year they were all dead from a brain tumor, Grade 4 Astrocytoma, on the right side of the head.  They all suffered from large and deep radiation burns.  Make of that what you will.  I can make nothing of it since repeated requests for his medical records have been denied. 

During my adult lifetime I have seen four wars and half a dozen near misses.  That is twice as many wars as my parents saw in their adult life.  Their parents fought WWI, the war to end all wars.  Given this escalation, we clearly missed that mark.

The human race has always been adept at self annihilation.  With each successive combat we develop better and better ways to exterminate one another.  While the medical world has done a good job of keeping pace with the treatment of battlefield injuries, sending home soldiers with catastrophic damage the likes of which my father or grandfather’s generation could never have imagined, still the butchery stays well ahead of the treatment.  Today as in days gone by the resources grudgingly committed to caring for our Veterans meet with far more resistance then the insatiable appetite for funding and conducting yet another international pissing contest.

Every Memorial Day it is the same thing, speeches, wreaths, promises to the wounded, condolences for the loved one’s of the fallen.  Every Memorial Day we speak of sacrifice, of freedom and of keeping this country safe.  I never hear about the glory of peace or the insanity of war.  I never hear about the enemies within – the corrupt politicians, their corporate masters and their anointed stooges.  No, the enemy is always out there, over there, a different color, a different religion. 

Every Memorial Day I listen to “Taps,” and in each sorrowful, poignant musical phrase I hear the voices of the lost, the heartbreak of the grieving, the whispering of shattered dreams and murdered potential.  Every Memorial Day I wonder will there ever come a day when the last and final memory of war is war itself?

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