Memorial Day

Memorial DayMemorial Day is a day to remember the soldiers that lost their lives in the line of duty, serving our country and the people that live in it.  These soldiers gave their lives for Us.  For me, it’s also another day that I try to understand why we seem to always be in some kind of conflict and what the real reason is the decision makers are starting WARS.  I wonder if the men and women fighting these wars are really fighting for our freedom and to protect us against terrorism, or, are they fighting to keep the business of WAR alive?  Defense Contractors and others, including politicians, profit heavily during WAR time which, in the United States, seems to be all the time.  Our National Defense budget is much larger then our Heath Care budget, the numbers aren’t even close.  With all the capital that the US allocates towards defending this country it makes you think that we are in the business of WAR, and the politicians keep the WAR Machine turning.  What is the real reason we are still in Afghanistan, does any average citizen really know?  It’s been 11 years, what have we accomplished?  There have been some captures / murdering of terrorist leaders and we have weakened the strength of al-Qaeda and the Taliban but as soon as we leave that will all be abolished.  What are we really after, to protect the US citizens against terrorism?  In my opinion there’s just one answer to that….BULLSHIT!!  I find it hard to believe our government is that concerned about our well-being.  If that were true, we would have better Health Care Plans, a better Education System, better Crime Fighting Organizations, a better Drug Abuse Prevention Plan and the list goes on.  The Defense business does provide jobs, which does play a critical role in providing stability to our economy.  And since several major businesses farm out thousands of jobs to other countries to exploit cheap labor and make larger profits for themselves, it almost seems like our economy would collapse without WAR.   How sad is that, a country that is dependent on WAR to keep it’s economy stable.  “Hello Mr. Politician, I know you sit back in your big office and WAR to you means giving your approval by signing a piece paper, and this might be news to you, but people die in WAR, young people, men and women…do you realize that???”  “When that defense contractor greases your pocket so you will buy their WAR machines, does it concern you that the men and women that operate those machines might be killed in a battle using them?”  Do you ever wonder where Our Government gets the money to pay for those WAR machines?  They get the money from the Federal Reserve System which is a privately  owned bank that’s in charge of printing and controlling the money supply for the United States.  Simply stated, our government asks the Fed for more money to finance the WAR, in turn the Fed prints out and loans the money to our government and charges them interest. The money the Fed prints out is not backed by anything, it used to be backed by gold and silver but that is no longer the case, hence the primary reason for the out of control national debt.  So as you can see, the business of WAR is good for the Bankers, the Politicians and the Defense Contractors, but is it in the best interest of America and the people that live in this country?  That’s up to you to decide.   On Memorial Day we must remember Our fallen soldiers and the sacrifices they made…they gave up everything because they believed they were fighting for freedom, fighting for the right to be an American and fighting to preserve a better way of life.  A better way of life for every American citizen, not just the politicians, bankers and business men that profit from the business of WAR.  Below is some information you may or may not know.

Costs of the War in Afghanistan

June 7, 2011

As part of its “Cost of War” analysis, NPP has calculated the total cost of the war in Afghanistan. To date, $459.8 billion dollars has been allocated for the war in Afghanistan since 2001 in current, or “then year” dollars. Adjusted for inflation the total is $487.6 billion in constant 2012 dollars. This includes all of the funding that has been requested by the President and appropriated by Congress for the war through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, 2011.

The cost of War since 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached $1.3 Trillion and growing. (Source)


US War Timeline Ending with WWII

Afghanistan War (October 7, 2001 to present)

Afghanistan

The wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, marking the beginning of its War on Terrorism campaign, seeking to oust the Taliban and find al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The officially-stated purpose of the invasion was to destroy al-Qaeda and deny them sanctuary and freedom of movement within Afghanistan.

U.S. Casualties: 1098 deaths, 2379 wounded in action [source]

Iraq War (March 20, 2003 to December 15, 2011)

Iraq

The Iraq War is an ongoing conflict in the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, which began with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition overthrew Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and occupied Iraq in an attempt to establish a new governmental regime.

U.S. Casualties: 4,404 deaths; 31,827 wounded in action [source]

Here’s a video on one of the reasons it’s taken so long to train the Iraqi Soldiers:

http://www.facebook.com/v/1155650126490

Gulf War (August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991)

Persian Gulf

The 1991 Gulf War was a conflict between Iraq and a coalition force of approximately 30 nations. The Gulf War led by the United States and mandated by the United Nations in order to liberate Kuwait.

U.S. Casualties:  378 deaths, less than 1000 wounded in action

The Cold War (often dated 1947–1991)

The Cold War was a sustained state of political and military tension between the powers of the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, and the communist world, led by the Soviet Union, its satellite states and allies. This began after the success of their temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences. The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc with the eastern European countries it occupied, maintaining these as satellite states. The post-war recovery of Western Europe was facilitated by the United States’ Marshall Plan, while the Soviet Union, wary of the conditions attached, declined and set up COMECON with its Eastern allies. The United States forged NATO, a military alliance using containment of communism as a main strategy through the Truman Doctrine, in 1949, while the Soviet bloc formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Some countries aligned with either of the two powers, whilst others chose to remain neutral with the Non-Aligned Movement.

Edward Teller claims that ”work on weapons during the cold war did not put a particularly heavy burden on the American economy,” and that ”at any rate, the cold war had the distinction of not costing any lives.” The term ”particularly heavy” is rather subjective; in fact, United States expenditures for nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs between 1940 and 1996 consumed nearly $5.5 trillion in adjusted 1996 dollars. That is 29 percent of all military spending and 11 percent of all Federal Government spending.

As for lives lost, while the United States and the Soviet Union did not fight on the battlefield, hundreds of thousands of American and Soviet citizens were exposed to the radioactive and toxic byproducts of nuclear weapons production and testing in their own countries. The human toll of these activities is only now beginning to be quantified.

Vietnam War (1959 to April 30, 1975)

Vietnam

U.S. military advisors first became involved in Vietnam as early as 1950, when they began to assist French colonial forces. In 1956, these advisors assumed full responsibility for training the Army of the Republic of Vietnam or ARVN. Large numbers of American combat troops began to arrive in 1965.

U.S. Casualties: 58,193 deaths, 153,303 wounded in action, 1948 missing in action [source]

Korean War (June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953)

Korea

The Korean War, occurring a civil war between the states of North Korea and South Korea that were created out of the post-World War II Soviet and American occupation zones in Korea, with large-scale participation by other countries.

U.S. Casualties:  54,246 deaths, 8142 missing in action.

World War II (December 8, 1941 to  August 14, 1945)

World War II

World War II, or the Second World War, was a worldwide conflict fought between the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers, from 1939 until 1945. Armed forces from over seventy nations engaged in aerial, naval, and ground-based combat. Spanning much of the globe, World War II resulted in the deaths of over sixty million people, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. Total includes the estimated 9 million lives lost in the Holocaust. The war ended with an Allied victory.

U.S. Casualties:  407,300 deaths, 670,846 wounded in action [source]


Memorial Day History

Civil War Commander in Chief John A. Logan

Civil War Commander in Chief John A. Logan declared the first official Memorial Day in 1868

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50’s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

On January 19, 1999 Senator Inouye introduced bill S 189 to the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of “the last Monday in May”. On April 19, 1999 Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform.

To date, there has been no further developments on the bill. Please write your Representative and your Senators, urging them to support these bills. You can also contact Mr. Inouye to let him know of your support. Visit our Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance page for more information on this issue, and for more ways you can help.

To see what day Memorial Day falls on for the next 10 years, visit the Memorial Day Calendar page.

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