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MEMORIAL DAY: Honor veterans, don’t glorify

Letter by Annie Russell, Gig Harbor on May 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm with 38 Comments »
May 27, 2010 9:44 am

Re: “Veterans continue to inspire through generations” (reader columnist, 5-24).

This over-the-top glorification of war and warriors, sugarcoated as patriotism, is an insult to truth. The 58,000 fallen soldiers of the Vietnam War did not win us freedom or security; they fought and died for stupidity and hubris.

Korea, Grenada, Panama, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the secret wars our government has conducted behind our backs, were likewise dubious, inglorious subterfuge or outright crime, as witnessed by Congress never bothering to officially declare war in any of these cases.

My father was one of the most highly decorated soldiers of World War II, yet he refused to talk much about it, as do most soldiers. The memories were too horrendous. He never made a big deal about Memorial Day. He and the other survivors just silently replayed the roll call of the lost, which included their youth, innocence and sense of the innate beauty of life.

Believing America is always right, our wars are always just, and our warriors deserving of glorification is delusional and dangerous. Warriors are always pawns to a snarling master. They obey. They do their duty as they have been inculcated to understand. Rarely is it truly virtuous.

Let us honor our veterans with support for what they now need in life after giving so much of themselves to their country – not by glorifying the conflicts they were slaves to.

Leave a comment Comments → 38
  1. Ms. Russel,

    I don’t believe you’ll be seeing too many deceased veterans talking about their service, or beating their own drums this year.

    This is a day to honor our fallen soldiers, sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coasties. Leave us in peace to do so.

    I’ll be remembering especially those I knew personally, I suggest you do the same.


  2. aislander says:

    Parkland is right. We mourn our defeats and celebrate our victories together, as Americans, and as Americans we come together to support the troops in their mission. We can discuss the rationale behind the mission before it begins and after it is over, but while Americans are in harm’s way we cannot support them without supporting what they are trying to accomplish. To do otherwise is to support our enemy, and the fact that you do not support the troops DOES mean you are not one of us…

  3. the3rdpigshouse says:

    And what is the Commander in Chief doing on Memorial Day???

  4. Roncella says:

    Annie, How did you aquire such a worped view of America and Americans ??

    Did you learn that in school, or at home or where ???

    You need to pay a visit to a cemetary and view those white crosses and read the names and dates of those brave Soldiers who gave their lifes so the rest of us can live in peace.

  5. beerBoy says:

    I wonder if the ancient Romans believed that their wars were fought to create peace…..

  6. huffington says:

    Annie, I knew your letter would not find a supportive audience here. Sadly, glorifying war and demonizing your enemy, in this country and nearly all others, is the easiest way to fool the public into supporting and participating. No doubt about it, most soldiers do love their country, and sacrifice much for it. It is a shame how as a country, and most others send them to kill each other for little to no reason.

  7. Parkland says:

    Huff is like that guy at the four way stop who won’t go when he’s supposed to, and then thinks that everyone else is stupid. Not that it matters to you Huff, but you’re not nearly as bright or enlightened as you think you are. You don’t even know what Memorial Day is for, apparently, and then ride on in here to advertise to the world that you can do little more than parrot the leftist rhetoric of the elitist puppetmasters that pull the strings of the less intelligent among us.

  8. huffington says:

    Well Parkland, I guess that makes you the guy who belittles everyone who has a differing opinion than you. You already called for the letter writer to leave this country for having a differing opinion, and now attack me for supporting her.
    The fact is, I do support her letter. Like I said, “most” wars are fought for little to no reason. That is not saying in anyway that the men and women fighting and dying in those wars are in any way less brave or patriotic. Any rational person should be able to realize that most wars throughout history were simply a waste of human life, property, and money. Let me guess, you believe that the U.S. is ALWAYS right and moral? Grow up.

  9. Parkland says:

    Huff: “That is not saying in anyway that the men and women fighting and dying in those wars are in any way less brave or patriotic.”

    Then why do you choose to take a dump on Memorial Day? Why do you have to, this close to Memorial Day, regurgitate your lefty rhetoric? Are you one of those guys, who every Christmas, feels the need to tell Christians (as if they didn’t know) that 12/25 was not Jesus’ birthday, and that it was a commandeered Roman holiday?

    I don’t even care to debate this war or that war or war in general. That’s not what Memorial Day is about. But you and people like the letter writer just can’t help but butt in with your anti-war drivel, you just can’t stand to simply let Americans honor those who’ve fallen without being “that guy”, the one who offends purposely.

  10. beerBoy,

    Peace is a subjective term. Every country goes to war with an eagle on their shoulder, and God on their side. Soldiers have never had the luxury of politics.

  11. huffington says:

    Parkland – I don’t think that I was “taking a dump” on Memorial Day. ” For me, honoring our soldiers is not about putting a yellow ribbon on my car and telling those who don’t support our wars that they are anti-American. To me, supporting our troops means that we make every attempt to not engage in war in the first place. It means that we take care of our veterans and their families after they return, and it means that we don’t attempt to cover our mistakes in a veil of patriotism, only to repeat them in the future. So, on this Memorial day, you can feel all warm and fuzzy about our great country, but I will be mourning the thousands of citizens who have died needlessly.

  12. Roncella says:

    huffington, Save your preaching about Peace and War for countries like North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Seria, Cuba, Venezuela, Muslim Terrorists scattered throughout many other Countries.

    The major Wars America has fought in were in response to us being attacked, others were fought in support of our allies.

    Memorial Day should be respected for the sacrifices that so many have made before us to protect and allow the rest of us and mankind to live in peace.

  13. Again the liberals posting here illustrate what the true meaning of the word “ignorance’ means. Memorial Day is not about glorififying war, it’s about remembering those who have given their lives in defense of this country. This day of remembrance used to be called “Decoration Day”, that meant to decorate the gravesites of those who paid the ultimate price. Get your facts straight. You can argue as to whether Vietnam was a waste, what it did accomplish was to show the main antagonists, China and the USSR, that America would stand up to it’s commitments to support democracies around the war. It sapped their resourses and prevented them from extending their conquests to other counries in the region.

  14. correction, ‘support democracies around the “world”. (countries)

  15. huffington says:

    Roncella says: “huffington, Save your preaching about Peace and War for countries like North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Seria, Cuba, Venezuela, Muslim Terrorists scattered throughout many other Countries.”

    Roncella, without simply rambling off a list of supposedly “evil” countries, take a few minutes and look up the wars fought byeach of those counties. An argument could easily be made that some of those countries are much more peaceful than the U.S.

  16. Parkland says:

    You guys can save your breath. It’s pretty obvious that those guys live in that weird liberal paradigm where they have this preconceived thought pattern that is impervious to information that contradicts that which they’ve been programmed to parrot. In this case, they can’t shake the urge to disrespect America’s military, hiding behind that old, “I hate wars, but I respect the troops” sort of BS that we’re so used to hearing all the time.

    Huff: “on this Memorial day, you can feel all warm and fuzzy about our great country, but I will be mourning the thousands of citizens who have died needlessly.”

    What a steaming load and a slap to the dead faces of those who’ve died in combat while wearing an American uniform. You don’t deserve to be called a citizen.

  17. huffington says:

    Frosty, your post somewhat proves my point. You start out by saying that Memorial day is about remembering those that have given their life in war. (I agree). But then you finish by trying to justify a particular war. I’m not going to debate you on the merits of the Vietnam war. Or Iraq war, or Afghan war. All wars are horrible. Most wars can and should be avoided. Lets honor the soldiers and curse the wars.

  18. huffington says:

    Parkland: I think if you ask the vast majority of surviving combat vets for the reasons that they got shot at, and their buddies got shot up, and they would agree that their buddies died needlessly. That the men they killed died needlessly. That the civilians killed died needlessly. The only disrespect is that we keep making the same mistake.

  19. Parkland says:

    Huff, if Obama wasn’t such a Marxist POS, we wouldn’t have to have this discussion so close to Memorial Day.

  20. Parkland:

    Why don’t you read what the writer said and not add your disgusting disjointed inattentive drivel to it. The writer didn’t indicate she seethed with hate toward our culture and traditions as you stated in your first comment on this thread. She suggested that we not glorify war, that we not enter war unconstitutionally or unnecessarily, and that we not view our country as unquestionably right and just, and then suggested we honor our veterans by giving them what they need in life after war. Only a tiny little bitter social misfit such as yourself, or a traitor could disagree with that.

    And who are you to claim you’re speaking for the vast majority of Americans by telling the writer to “Just get the hell out” of this country. I say, the vast majority of American’s don’t like pig-headed bullies and traitors to the constitution like you, not one little bit, and we wouldn’t miss you. So do what your told her and leave the country yourself.

    Your final silly disjointed comment blamed this discussion on Obama. How sick. Your smoking pot aren’t you? Or something worse. Pack up and git! Do it quick. America will be a better country without you.

  21. beerBoy says:

    Frosty – this liberal knows that Decoration Day was originally dedicated to fallen Union soldiers. I also have childhood memories of decorating my grandfather’s grave in honor of his sacrifice in WWI.

    There are more than a few who have attempted to turn this holiday honoring the fallen into a generalized holiday honoring all servicemen and women (apparently their usurpation of Armistice Day – which celebrated the end of hostilities in the “war to end all wars” – to glorify all veterans of all American wars, justified or not, wasn’t enough for their militaristic enthusiasm).

    But, truth be told, it is the merchants who have turned Memorial Day (and all American holidays) into a celebration of consumerism through sales and barbecues.

  22. Roncella says:

    Huffington, If you can truly believe that the Countries I referenced are now or have been in the past more peaceful than the America, you are in need of some deep reading of history.

    Why not take some pride in the Country you are living in and find positive things to say about America and honor the many fallen soldiers who gave their lifes so the rest of us can live in peace.

  23. Spiritof1776 says:

    On one hand, I was deeply saddened by this article. On the other hand, I realized that, in part, Ms. Russell has the right to voice her thoughts (woefully misguided though I think they may be) because of the very men and women who fought and died to give her that right. Sadly, she’s misinformed about the intent of Memorial Day which to is remember those fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate price for answering the call to arms. It’s never been about glorifying war nor soldiers. Never. Ever.
    I would suggest that her words “They do their duty as they have been inculcated to understand” are incorrect, though I applaud her obviously large lexicon. As a veteran of 22 years of dedicated service as a member of the United States Army, I did my duty not out of rote nor memorization, but out of sense of devotion, pride and duty to country. Other than being born to a WWII veteran, I’d respectfully ask what she has done as a citizen to better her country? From her words, I doubt she’s done much save complain from the safety of her warm and cozy cottage. Still, as I mentioned, she has that right; however I’m reminded of a quote by William Safire “The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right” Have a blessed Memorial Day Ms. Russell, and as I journey to a cemetery to pay my respects to those brave souls this weekend, don’t fret, I’ll say thanks for you too.

  24. Oh goody… now toyota/craftsman/rommel/lazyocean/ (I’m skipping alot) pubico/ … etc.

    has a nother moniker…

  25. m9078jk3 says:

    It’s quite a mistake for veterans of war to not speak out and educate the public or family on their experiences.My father was a WW2 vet too and we knew a lot about which bombardment group and squadron he served in.I was fortunate that my father spoke about his experiences.In fact I now have a list (and most of the pictures) of every aircraft that my dad Piloted and every crewmember listed for each combat mission.Many times it helps other families as well because a son or daughter or grandkid might be interested in their history or what happened to a MIA or KIA relative.Saving historical knowledge no matter how painful personally it might be can be very important for others.At my father’s group association website I am quite happy to help others find out what happened to their dad,grandfather or relative.

  26. I think the whole bunch of you need to refrain from dishonoring the fallen by turning this into a political orgy.

    Find another topic and I’ll join you, but leave the holiday alone.

  27. beerBoy says:

    Dale – My mailbox is filled with circulars advertising Memorial Day sales. While there are some that still use this holiday to honor the fallen it is, for most, no more meaningful than those yellow ribbon magnets slapped on the back of folks’ cars.

  28. How will you be honoring our fallen heros B? (I’m talking soldiers how have dies serving our country)…

  29. beerBoy says:

    ij – The most important way to honor Vets is to push your legislators to honor vets with funding. The most important way to honor the fallen is to speak up against wars of choice (rather than those that are necessary for our defence) where lives are wasted.

  30. beerBoy says:

    the3rdpigshouse says: And what is the Commander in Chief doing on Memorial Day???

    Most likely he is receiving briefings on Israel’s attack 40 miles out in international waters on a flotilla of 5 boats that has led to 10 deaths. The IDF says they were defending themselves against knives and axes but…..boarding a ship in international waters is piracy and they had every right to defend themselves against the illegal boarding by the IDF….

    And in his spare time he is probably getting briefings on the oil catastrophe…

    And then there is Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan to deal with…..to say nothing about……

    But…..you are incensed that he isn’t going to the tomb of the unknown soldier. Say….were you upset about W’s complete lack of display for the fallen of Iraq?

  31. beerBoy says:

    for thePig:

    The president is scheduled to lay a wreath and deliver remarks Monday at a Memorial Day observance at the Abraham Lincoln Cemetery in Elwood, Ill., south of Chicago.

  32. Nice thread drift B… but since we’ve drifted off topic…

    Illegal boarding… how do you ‘feel’ about the Sea Sheperd Conservation Society illegally boarding Japanese vessels?
    Peter Bethune is just the latest…

    Say… did you ever critisize Bush???

  33. ij – weren’t they punished by law? And……how many did the SSCS kill that day?

    and…..comparing my criticisms of Bush to thePigs’ socialist/marxits/dullard Turget’s syndrome is……..not near your usual level of repartee.

  34. Since this “uber-liberal newspaper” hasn’t seen fit to cover the IDF commando invasion in international waters, I felt OK with the thread drift.

  35. And…..while I am sympathetic to anti-whaling efforts…..I have no sympathy for the tactics of piracy.

  36. Are you kidding B? They have half a dozen stories on it… Whaaa.

    I only refered to one incident of the SSCS… it ain’t the first and won’t be the last. Have you ever watched their TV show?

    (in case you missed it, I have not supported nor condemned the IDF OR SSCS… merely pointing out your selective outrage… that’s what I do)

  37. I’m sorry, Annie Russell,that my guest column on May 24th about Memorial Day hurt and angered you. Every line I wrote was intended to honor veterans and those still serving in battlefields they never asked for. I hoped that each statistic and personal response would show the waste and futilitiy of war.

    Sometimes our own agony and perception color what we read and observe. I’m sorry for your pain and respect your desire for fair and honest leadership in our country.

    We can’t change history but we can affect today. We live in the worst of times and the best of times in this broken world. Annie, you used the word “glorification” and its danger over and over again in your letter. My illustrations and intent to “stand up for what is right” was meant only as a reminder for us all to share “over the top” gratitude for the gift of walking free with our families, to enjoy our pursuits and opportunities. From the positive responses I’ve received from the public, including veterans of many wars, I believe my words honored and touched them deeply.

    The way for us all to survive is to respect differences and beliefs, growing together in understanding in an imperfect world. My reason for writing about this solemn time was simply to thank all those, past and present, who, like your father, have given their ultimate–for the likes of me.

    Doris Toppen Northstrom

  38. vonnieglen says:


    Combat veterans are the least likely persons to glorify war. Honoring the sacrifices of those who have fallen in battle may seem like an inconvenience to you… but they are the ones who have made your wonderful life here in America possible. I don’t have time to explain it to you, but everything you seem to think you know about Vietnam is blatently wrong. If you want to really find out about it, I suggest that you befriend some Vietnamese refugees and ask them about their experiences. They were left high and dry after our politicians cut and run from a situation that we had essentually already won.

    The politicians are the ones who screwed that conflict up, not the soldiers who served. Blame them and blame those in the media who let themselves be used by our enemies who killed millions of innocent people. The USA is led by imperfect politicians, but it is still the best system in the world.

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