I’m a Canadian, (Ok, I’m technically a triple citizen of Canada, the UK and the US, but in my heart I’m a Canadian.) I served in the Canadian military (Lorne Scots, Peel Dufferin and Halton Regiment, protecting downtown Brampton from the perfidious hordes of the The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (ASH CANs) and the Toronto Scottish Regiment (TORSCOTS)). It wasn’t much, but I feel like I can claim some small kinship with the men and women that this day, Memorial Day, is supposed to honour. Remembrance Day (11 November) means more to me, but this is the US and they do things differently here.
So keeping in mind I think of this as the US version of Remembrance Day, please remember this: more important than your day off work, more important than watching all the Memorial Day specials on tv, more important than the fireworks and parades, even more important than thanking the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen you know individually and personally, you owe them one thing above all others. And that’s to demand that their political leaders do not waste their lives. They stand willing to give their lives to defend you and your way of life, and when their commanders order them to do so, they will not stop and ask questions, they will do what they are ordered and pay whatever price comes from it. So it is us who must stop and ask the questions. Not to ask why they did what they were ordered, because that is what a soldier must do, but why the person giving the orders did so, and did they do the right thing by doing so?
So while US and Canadian (and other NATO) soldiers are dying in Afghanistan, while US tries to extricate itself from Iraq, and while some are beating drums about Iran or worrying about North Korea’s latest batshit insane move, we have to ask “did our leaders do the right thing getting us into these wars” and “can we finish what we started out to do there, or get out of them while accomplishing enough to make it worth while” and “if we get into the next one, what will be the result and what will be the cost”? Remember those questions, and not just on Memorial Day.