America commemorates the soldiers who have died in wars on Memorial Day. For most people it is a long weekend about things they will do – go to the supermarket, stock up on what they need to live, plan a short trip out of town, watch lots of movies, call friends over for a barbeque, rustle up some fancy meals, clean out cupboards, complete pending paperwork, go swimming-walking-cycling-snorkelling-rock climbing-bungee jumping, open that special bottle of wine.
Dead soldiers are not on most people’s minds.
You might question me about the cynicism. After all, I do not object to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, the day of the jackal and stuff, so why this? Because wars are vicious. Soldiers do not plan them; politicians do and in military dictatorships generals do, though politicians in some societies decide what the generals must do.
Those who die rarely know about the cause they are fighting for. They are young people who are conscripted. Patriotism creates guinea pigs of people who ought to be contributing towards peace. It is what they want. Their parents want. Their spouses want. Their children want.
In India, the armed forces celebrate these events. Some people are given honours posthumously. The ordinary citizen gets to know about it in next day’s newspapers. So, we do not have a long weekend. But am sure, if we did then we’d do exactly the things mentioned.
Flowers on graveyards tomorrow will be wilted. That should tell us what such days truly mean…
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War, like other dramatic spectacles, might possibly cease for want of a "public." – George Eliot