A Veteran stays home on Memorial Day

I suspected the call might not come this year. After two years of reluctantly turning down the invitation to join fellow Veterans marching in my town's Memorial Day parade, no request for my participation came this May. I was relieved.

I still don't know the origin of the list that somehow makes its way into the hands of well-meaning people such as the parade organizer and the kind Girl Scouts who deliver homemade cookies to our homes each Veterans Day. Somehow they know who the Vets are in my small New York town and they go out of their way to honor us, including asking us to march in the annual Memorial Day parade.

And yet every year since the Iraq war began, I simply can't do it. I don't struggle as mightily now as I did a year or two ago as my thoughts and raw feelings on the subject have become crystal clear.

It is a sick paradox that Veterans -- who should despise George W. Bush and his administration more than most -- are still among the groups that seem to stand by his side, largely supported him as recently as the 2004 election and even donated to his efforts to retain his unfortunate Command-in-Chief role. Forget the Swift Boat Liars, who so cruelly assailed John Kerry in 2004 with their fictitious and irrelevant accounts of his Vietnam service -- they're so far gone that only greed or mental illness can explain their conduct and I can only hope that none live in my town.

But as far as I'm concerned, any of my neighbors who voted for Bush -- and certainly those who support him even today, with so many more facts to work with -- have on their hands the blood of almost 2,500 of our brothers and sisters who have died in Iraq. And, while I understand that Memorial Day is supposed to be an apolitical day of solemn remembrance, I just cannot bring myself to march should-to-shoulder with them.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.