By Jay Kirell
Memorial Day 2014.
Another year, another start to the summer vacation season where America takes a day off to remember those who died in war.
Flags will be flown. Words will be spoken. The dead will be honored.
Being one of the many who served overseas that didn’t die in war, (but came reeeeally close) I have a unique view of death and how we, as a nation honor it.
Certainly, those who gave their life for their country – whether it was back in the Civil War or this year Afghanistan – should be honored. It doesn’t matter if they were conscripted, drafted, volunteered or were forced into service as a last chance – if they died in a war their country joined or started – their nation should remember them. Its citizens shouldn’t forget the true meaning of sacrifice.
Ultimately we are all beneficiaries of their sacrifice, as history has shown, spilled blood builds nations.
America became a great power by spilling a lot of blood in foreign lands; our own and much more of our enemies. We choose Memorial Day to honor the blood of our own.
So why is it we have no day to honor the blood of our own spilled right here at home?
As if by clockwork, another incident of mass violence occurred in America recently. An incident where multiple Americans were shot and killed, hunted down like animals, by an individual with a complex issues and easy access to firearms.
The dead from this incident will be buried in the next few days. The families will mourn. Our nation’s leaders will call it a tragedy.
Because America only seems to understand the urgency of mass casualties when it is committed by non-Americans. Someone comes into our house and hurts us, we spare no expense and leave no stone unturned in our quest for justice. America will travel to the ends of the Earth to seek out those who would do us harm.
A little more than 6,700 Americans have died fighting overseas in response to the 911 attacks, more than twice the number of civilians who were killed in the attacks themselves.
Obviously, America takes killing its citizens very seriously.
Except…if an American is doing it apparently.
Because in the same time span that 6000+ American service-members were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (2001-2011) over 130,000 Americans were killed by guns here at home and another 180,000 Americans used a gun to take their own life.
Yet there is no Memorial Day for them.
No day where America pauses to remember those who gave their life…maybe not for their country…but certainly their country’s right to keep and bear arms with hardly any restrictions.
Any nation that honors the few who die in war while ignoring the many who die at home is a nation with misplaced priorities.
Those who died violently over there did it so their families and friends wouldn’t die violently over here.
Yet they’re dying here violently anyway.
So this Memorial Day, remember the brave men and women who gave their life for their country in some foreign place, and pray our nation one day remembers there are brave men and women giving their life for something a lot less important here at home.