Im writing this on Memorial Day, the annual celebration of those Americans who died in military service. On this day, some Americans fly the flag. Some attend memorial services. Some place flowers on graves. But most have a picnic, attend a baseball game, go shopping, take a mini-vacation or otherwise enjoy a day off.
What would be more fitting is to change our national mindset toward war.
Some time ago, I realized that our nation has been at war for all but 33 years of our existance. When were not at war, were preparing for war or meddling in the affairs of other nations. We have fought against Native Americans, the British, Spanish, Mexicans, Libyans, Philippinos, Chinese, Japanese, Italians, Germans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Panamanians, Iraqis, and Afghans. We have threatened many more. We have even fought each other.
Some of these wars were necessary. Many were not.
Its time that we came to the realization that the US is a warrior nation. We have spread our influence around the globe at the end of a gun. Its no coincidence that the worlds only military superpower is also the worlds greatest economic power.
We have created an American Empire in the mold of the Roman Empire. But theres an ominous warning in that comparison. You see, the Roman Empire also ruled through military conquest. Eventually, it over-extended its resources and collapsed of its own weight. It simply could no longer afford the military and the political infrastructure needed to keep its subjects in line.
If the US doesnt want to fade into history, we need to heed that warning.
Instead of a three-day weekend in recognition of those who have fallen, we would better honor our military heroes by reimagining our future; by seeking to avoid conflicts through diplomacy and true leadership; by refusing to use our military in support of our economic interests (aka greedy corporations); by relegating war to the avenue of absolute last resort; and by committing to never again send our sons and daughters to fight in an unnecessary war halfway around the world until all other options have been expended.
I can think of no better way to honor our fallen warriors than to dramatically reduce the number who join their ranks in the future.