26 May 2009
Memorial day and thoughts of War
This is a day when I think about war. About death. About sacrifice. I think about patriotism and I think about nationalism and the difference between them. The song above, which I quite like and which showcases some real beauty and pathos relating to the USA, is an example. But it is also an example of the carelessness of some Americans in their thinking. If I lose everything but my family, I do still love the US, I do still know that there I have my freedom, but gosh- I think I would also love the freedom of knowing that I and my family will have a roof over our heads, schooling and healthcare. Western Europe (and Canada) has those things and in most cases, freedom too.
However, it is something to know that in the USA I have freedom from fear of anti-Semitism. In the USA, I am not afraid to turn my menorah to the outside window, to have mezzuzot on my doors, to send my children to schools without tall steel walls, pressure lock entrances and police guards.
That is what Americans have fought for and died for and helped to create throughout the world. We may have fallen below our own ideals, but we do still have those ideals. In a constant struggle between a desire for isolationism that would be so easy to justify by our physical separation from the rest of the world, and a desire to help the world to higher ideals of freedom and democracy, our armed forces have died for ideals and helped to produce freedom and democracy. I would not exist if it were not for the entry of the US into WWII, late as I find that entry to have been.
This weekend I hosted a book club. the book was March by Geraldine Brooks and I thought it was extremely well written and well researched. I also found it very topical, although the subject matter was the Civil War, questions common to all wars arose: Are wars worth fighting? Are the deaths that are part of war justified? Do the perhaps venal objectives of the political powers declaring the war diminish the ideals that the war may bring to fruition? It was very interesting to hear the differing ideas, from Britons, Americans and Germans. For me, it was very interesting to have this conversation on Memorial Day weekend, and to see how easily some feel that the evils of war negate the positives: I am not one of them.
My gratitude and admiration for all those who fought as our country needed, who stood up for the defenseless and abused, and my memory and condolences to the families and loved ones left behind.