In memoriam of Charles L. Fike and rest of my family and friends that dedicated their lives to the cause and spread of freedom and human dignity.
Everybody is waxing poetic this weekend in the name of Patriotism, drunk on the spirits of Lady Liberty, so…here we go.
Memorial Day is a moment in our calendar where political ideologies have their imperatives emasculated; the difference between red and blue is washed out amidst the color blindness of family, community and solidarity. Hopefully, who is patriotic is not a partisan battle, but a partisan bridge.
As my good friend has amply noted, many of Liberty’s sons have been sent to their untimely and unjustifiable deaths in the name of “Democracy” and “The American Dream”. That the means of legitimation and justification in many instances are criminally farcical is self-evident; in many ways the defense of democracy or the fight against tyranny have become cyphers for the unspoken “right” of corporate acquisition, expansion and exploitation. Nonetheless, we mustn’t allow the machinations of the corrupt and unscrupulous to mar the memory of those who died with their honor intact. That, although the altar that they gave up their lives upon was to a wicked deity, yet the cause that they enlisted to defend was just. For on Memorial Day we must not give precedent to a strident nationalism that finds joy and satisfaction in the celebration of the wars and conflicts that we have set our names to in the often intoxicated adulthood of our international dominance. Instead, we must look back to the triumphs of our idealistic youth, where the choice between right and wrong was not so clouded by the demands of plutocratic continuity.
And so, it must be said, that Memorial Day is not meant to be a day of strident nationalism, of a raucous display and celebration of American exceptionalism. It’s a day that we celebrate the American Patriot, not the American Privateer.
In 1776, we made a declaration, a Declaration of Independence. But it was more than that. It was an affirmation of natural law, of the inherent order of things that we can only acknowledge, never dispute. It was more than merely a diplomatic warning to England of our intentions of secession, but a positive, declarative statement of Humanity’s indelible rights. And so, patriotism, true Patriotism, is something tethered to a proposition, not a place, not a nation. Those we remember died not to satisfy the lust and hunger of the powerful, though it may be their signature at the bottom of their deployment papers, but that you and I might have the opportunity to ensure that “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” does not remain perpetually the American Dream, but that it becomes Humanity’s Dream.