Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Michael Zennie (Fayetteville Observer) reports on the send-off ceremony for members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team who are deploying to Iraq, "This will be the brigade's 10th deployment since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In January 2010, parts of the brigade deployed to Haiti for three months to help that nation recover from a devastating earthquake. But for most of the soldiers shipping out Sunday - almost all of them from 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division - this is their first combat deployment, said 1st Lt. Evan Roddenberry, the chalk leader in charge of the deployment Sunday." Takaaki Iwabu (News & Observer) offers a photo of two of the members -- Pfc Ed Soper and Spc Jacob Tucker -- relaxing before the deployment. For many, "this is their first combat deployment." Exactly, because while Barack likes to claim combat operations ended August 31st, reality begs to differ. And renaming it "Operation New Dawn" won't change a thing.

Now he's soaking in it

As Isaiah noted September 6th, "Now he's soaking in it."

ABC News' Kristina Wong informs, "By this Memorial Day, nearly 150 U.S. female troops have made the ultimate sacrifice in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with over 700 wounded. Although Department of Defense policy precludes women from being assigned to ground combat-infantry units, women have for years served in combat situations where they're just as vulnerable." Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum tells Steven Miller (Major League Baseball), "Today on Memorial Day -- a lot of people start thinking about our veterans. What I want them to do is think about them all the time."


(Troy Yocum photo taken by John Crosby)

Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who has been hiking across the country for over a year now to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. (Troy began his hike in April of last year.)

Kat's "Kat's Korner: The Master of the Teen Drama" went up earlier. It is one of at least two music pieces she'll post today. (There may be three.) We'll close with this from Kelley B. Vlahos' "Memorial Day in Wartime" (

Another Memorial Day. Of course it’s been around for 103 years, but this is our ninth during wartime, which means we’re simultaneously honoring dead soldiers, while were putting new ones in the ground at Arlington Cemetery.

As of Friday, 4,454 American servicemen and women have been killed in Iraq; 1,595 in Afghanistan. That doesn’t seem like a lot when you consider the more than 58,000 dead in Vietnam and over 415,000 killed in World War II, but we know that today’s singular medical capabilities have allowed for tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines to live today who wouldn’t have made it off the battlefield 40 years ago. Let’s just say it’s been a war of a hundred thousand casualties.

Sadly, the Memorial Days of the last decade have already begun to blend into one another. At first, with the opening of the new World War II Memorial in 2004, they tried to conflate the “Greatest Generation” with current efforts in the Global War on Terror. There was a lot of traditional pomp and expectation around the day, much of which was juiced by the war hawks in the Bush Administration and yes, the American public itself, which had tried so desperately from the beginning to justify the preemptive war in Iraq as morally equivalent to saving Europe from the Nazis.

But today, Memorial Day serves as a much quieter marker of how long the war has dragged on since those heady days of red, white and blue confection. Of course the wreath-laying ceremonies at the war monuments in Washington will still take place; the black leather-vested veterans still sore about Vietnam have already rolled into Washington by the thousands on their motorcycles to wax stridently about patriotism, sacrifice and why war is a necessary evil. The local remembrances will go on, as will the picnics and the parades, the bunting and the tears.

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