24 May 2009

Memorial Day and other thoughts

Well, here we are on the "new" Memorial Day weekend and the old fart (me) is still here. Yep, this mess we call America hasn't killed me off, yet.
First off, a small bit of history. Originally, Memorial Day was the 30th of May. It was not then a "long weekend" holiday. It had been established to honor the Union troops who had died during the "Civil War" or as some still call it, the War of Northern Aggression".  Back then it was called "Decoration Day" according to Wikipedia. It was not until after World War One that it was expanded to include ALL American troops who were killed in any military action. Just as a point of interest in case you thought this "holiday" had always been a long weekend.
It was also the traditional day for the running of the Indianapolis 500. Yep, back when I was a kid in the 50's and 60's, the race was run on 30 May. It didn't matter if that day fell on a week day, ie. Monday through Friday, that was THE race day. Of course now, like many other holidays, we changed the original date of celebration so that we get a long weekend.  I'm still waiting for our government to change the other holidays to suit this long weekend deal. You know the few that still are NOT yet a long weekend. They are very few today and I believe only amount to July 4th, Christmas, and New Years Day. All our other holidays have been "reset" so that they now are "long weekend" holidays.
Well, you wonder, what is this old fool pissing about? Not much I suppose, just making a point. But it does seem funny to me that we now seem to "need" a long weekend for most of our major holidays. Somehow we seem to be unable to have a holiday in mid week. Funny, that is how things were originally. How did we manage to cope with that "disruption"?  Another thing on this matter. I don't remember many businesses being open with "special holiday" sales on many of those days either. Of course one could never expect our selfless businesses to close down for an entire weekend today. The "public" would revolt I suppose. In fact, many people seem to look forward to and even plan on shopping during these holiday sales periods. Well, that IS the "new" America, make a quick buck, and/or, get a "good deal" on some item. Yep, it is all about the (no longer) almighty dollar.  Ain't America a grand place?

Another item for today, prompted by an article I read today. It concerns the "Rolling Thunder" folks. An article I just read about that group caught my attention in an odd sort of way. In the article, the author talks of how this patriotic group once was riding their motorcycles in celebration of the Vietnam dead and missing. She goes on to tell how they "lost their way" sort of in the recent past years. Since the Iraq mess of W. Shrub, they now have transformed into a pro-war group. Or so the author has suggested. Personally I don't  know much about them, but it is possible. She does give a good argument for this and I accept it, mostly.
Any way, in this article the myth of the Vietnam vet being spit on is brought up, again. Crap! When is this myth going to die and get buried?  Come ON people! It did NOT happen! As a veteran of the Marine Corps and Vietnam, I never had any such experience, nor have ANY other veteran I have ever talked to. It is a myth, plain and simple. Leave this damn lie/myth die the death it deserves.
Now, I will admit, and it is provable, that about EVERY TV cop show of the early 1970's had at least one episode where the "bad guy(s)" were the nearly universal "deranged Vietnam vet(s)". THAT is one real thing that pissed me off at the time and still has the ability to "get" me today even.  We were no all a bunch of drugged out criminals. We did not all lose all sense of morality.
We were not all criminals.
The very same can be said of Arabic peoples today. They seem to be the "target" of choice in some police dramas and movies recently. Why is this so? My opinion is that they, like the "deranged Vietnam vet" of the 70's are an easy target for Hollywood. We are bogged down in two wars in the Arab world and looking to start at least one more (in Pakistan). Also, the fact that the guys who attacked the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, were Arabic people. Arabs are the "target of choice" for our military and Hollywood. To me, any "easy" target becomes the "new" movie/cop show "bad guy" of choice. It "flows" with the news and also, it helps to reinforce the government propaganda/stereotype. 
Now this is reason enough for me to not watch these TV shows and/or movies.  The stereotype bad guy is never correct in my opinion. The main reason to me, is that it never gives any real context. We never are told the "why" the current "bad guy" acts as he/she does. They are just held up as bad for the simple reason that they are either a Vietnam vet or an Arab. Simple folks. They are "bad guys" just because of who they are, the group they are part of. No further explanation is given, nor even hinted at.
Of course to give very much of a background as to why the "bad guy" really is doing as he/she does would make for very dull TV/movie experience. The American TV/movie watcher wants, in fact demands, action. Action, above a believable story line seems to rule what passes as "entertainment" for America. We love car chases, gun fights, and explosions. Oh, and plenty of fake blood and gore. Reality, well, that is for another time, maybe.
Funny, though, if you think on this. We seem to "enjoy" the fake blood and gore of our movies and TV shows (to a lesser extent on TV).  BUT, we never seem to be able to "take" it when it comes to the "real" news we watch. We "escape" to the fake blood shed of the movies, yet we shrink from the real blood of the news. Amazing. Maybe some "smart" folks will do a study on this and write a long, rather boring volume on this topic. Hell, maybe some of them have already. It still amazes me, how we "enjoy" Hollywood wars, yet we shrink from the real wars we are stuck in.
My opinion? We NEED to be shown just what a REAL war does to those who are caught up in it. In FULL COLOR. Hey, we now have high definition TV so, even better to show the gore and mess, the true hell of war. One small drawback, though, you still cannot transmit the smells of war through the TV or the movies. IF that were possible, then every war lover could have the experience of war right at home. 
Having survived a tour in Vietnam, I would like for ALL of these "war lovers" to have to sit and watch the real results of war, complete with ALL the sights, sounds, AND smells of war. I wonder just how many of them would still favor war after that. 
War is the most pornographic thing we humans have ever devised. Trust me on this people. Unless you have been in a war, you cannot, will never, fully understand what war is, what it does to those who are caught up in it. The sights, sounds, and yes, the smells of war are beyond imagining. You have to have been there, as they say.
So, in closing, on this "new" Memorial Day holiday, we need to remember not just the troops who have died in our wars, past and present, but we should remember ALL the people who have been caught up in our wars and who have been killed and/or maimed from war.
semper fi