Ever since 1868 millions of Americans have taken a day to remember the sacrifices of their country's fallen soldiers -- and consume tons of barbecued food. While Memorial Day is a time-honored tradition, not everyone thinks a national holiday should be dedicated to the military. Here's what Americans are saying on this Memorial Day.
"This is not only a time for celebration, it is also a time to reflect on what this holiday is all about; to pay tribute to our fallen heroes; and to remember the servicemen and women who cannot be with us this year because they are standing post far from home — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world."
President Barack Obama"Therefore, here in the Memorial Day weekend of 2009, may we at long last accept the tragic truth that more than a million of our children gave their lives as sacrificial lambs on the blood-soaked altar of the God of the State? Truly, they did not die to protect the American homeland. They did not die to protect our freedoms. They died in vain. They died for nothing."
Russell Longcore, the Libertarian Enterprise"Nothing’s wrong with enjoying your three-day weekend. But I worry that, even after almost eight years of war, too many Americans see today as just another summer holiday. Memorial Day should mean much more than barbecues and clearance sales."
Paul Rieckhoff, Exec. Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America"The Bible says to mourn the death of soldiers, but never says to honor their choice to fight... Didn't Jesus say 'Blessed are the peacemakers?' Jesus never said 'Bless and honor the war makers.'"
Kevin Craig, Christian pacifist
"Democracy is worth dying for, because it is the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man."
Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president
Memorial Day is one holiday on which I often hold an “Anti-War Film Festival,” inviting a few friends – who, being friends of mine, have no need to be reminded of the evils of warfare – to watch what I consider the best of the films that bring war into disrepute. Instead of going out to a cemetery to join an “honor guard” gang to play taps and fire their rifles to celebrate the deaths of victims of warfare, I suggest such an anti-war film festival for your own consideration. Films like: All Quiet on the Western Front, Wag the Dog, M*A*S*H and Dr. Strangeglove.
Butler Shaffer, author and professor at Southwestern University School of Law