"Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day;" says Wikipedia, but who listens? Our infatuation with the military, highly promoted since George W. Bush invaded Iraq, has made every day cause for "supporting the troops," but as something we all need to do without any financial help whatsoever from the Government. There is precious little said about increases in pay or benefits on either of these days.
Memorial day used to be Decoration day when people could remember and mourn the enormous number of dead in the Civil war, often going out to cemeteries and having picnics "on the ground." It's been extended to include our respect -- and our sorrow for all those we've lost in all our wars, not all of whom, sad to say lost their lives defending our "freedom" or way of life, as one might gather from all the jingoistic hoopla and "warrior" worship that now surrounds the holiday.
And just for the record, despite all those "thank a soldier" e-mails going round, although there are many reasons to revere many of the things our military has accomplished, from the revolution itself to the liberation of Europe, our "freedom" owes as much and more to our government, our courts, our constitution and most of all the voters. The many Indian wars, the Spanish war, the Mexican war, the Vietnam war, the invasion of Iraq and a handful of other minor interventions and invasions have nothing to do with our being or remaining an independent democratic republic owing it's legitimacy to the will of the governed. The danger to our freedom is far more internal. It has been and always will be.the federal troops called in by Eisenhower to integrate the schools were defending the freedom of Americans. Mining Haiphong harbor and the carpet bombing of Hanoi had nothing to do with it.
This is a day for mourning the dead, not for promoting the kind of politics that uses people as pawns, and perhaps a day for lamenting our eagerness to put the living in harms way for less than worthy reasons. It's hardly a day for glorifying war or warriors.