"Like wishing me a happy birthday on my dead brother’s birthday"
May 25, 2020 10:05 PM   Subscribe

Former Army sergeant Peter Sessum explains why not to thank vets for their service on Memorial Day, and why he's cool with BBQing and online deal-hunting ("a sound military strategy").
posted by splitpeasoup (21 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
I did not know. Thanks.
posted by slidell at 11:44 PM on May 25


Thanking service members on Memorial Day : Car commercials :: Pride Parades : Apparel commercials
posted by axiom at 11:56 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I really appreciate his POV, but I know my father really appreciates people telling him they appreciate his loss/service. He will be the first to tell you about the friends he lost when he was in the service, but really means something to him when others acknowledge it. I guess it'd be different were the other days more of a thing, but todays one of the few where I know he feels he can talk about his loss in a way that others listen to.
posted by Carillon at 12:37 AM on May 26 [18 favorites]


As I've pointed out to the editors of several local news websites this weekend, we do not celebrate Memorial Day, we OBSERVE Memorial Day.
posted by mikelieman at 1:15 AM on May 26 [40 favorites]


I wonder if part of the confusion comes from November 11th being observed as Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth, which has much the same purpose as the US Memorial Day, but is on US Veterans day?
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:16 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Obligatory killjoy New Zealander noting that if you're not Māori, you should leave the haka alone.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:34 AM on May 26 [20 favorites]


Unless you're an All Black. Or a NZ school child.
posted by Kiwi at 3:57 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


The way that Memorial Day has slid from a day of remembrance for those who died in combat to another "Thank you for your service!" yay soldiers! thing is not an accident. This is not a matter of well-meaning people accidentally misunderstanding the day.

It's part of the push to put our military up on a pedestal to silence discussion of the morality and cost of war. It's tied to the same way hero worship of the military is used to make it impossible to criticize military policy and use of military force. "Don't you support our troops?"

If people spend too much time contemplating the human cost of war, they may be unwilling to uncritically support US military action. And we can't have that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:26 AM on May 26 [132 favorites]


What DOT said ^
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:37 AM on May 26


It's part of the push to put our military up on a pedestal to silence discussion of the morality and cost of war. It's tied to the same way hero worship of the military is used to make it impossible to criticize military policy and use of military force. "Don't you support our troops?"

This.

It's no accident that damned near every public event must now begin with a big showy explosion of "patriotism" (giant flags unfurled, over-produced national anthems, phalanxes of uniformed soldiers, etc. etc.) All to make sure no one ever questions the organizers' or attendees' patriotism.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:45 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


I thank veterans often, by putting a dollar in their cup as I walk or drive by. Usually not on Memorial Day. It’s a shame their country leaves so many of them homeless and destitute.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:48 AM on May 26 [11 favorites]


If you want to sit around and hate the military, it is a free country, you are free to do that and I won’t fault you.

Ok thx
posted by The Toad at 7:40 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


I want to thank all those innocent folks & other beings who survived USA's mercenary military & war toys' corporations with greedy stockholders who have endlessly waged slaughter in the name of OIL & PROFIT on the world since WW1.
posted by Mesaverdian at 8:05 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


If you want to sit around and hate the military, it is a free country, you are free to do that and I won’t fault you. I defended your right to think what you want, even if it isn’t what I think.

It's a free country. You can think you defended Americans' rights, even though no American war since WWII has been remotely necessary.

It was in fact an otherwise excellent article, but it's disappointing that even the most clear-headed among the veterans still think they were protecting anything but capital interests.
posted by explosion at 8:10 AM on May 26 [29 favorites]


Obligatory killjoy New Zealander noting that if you're not Māori, you should leave the haka alone.

There’s this weird US military thing of love for the haka which I think actually came from being posted next to NZ troops in Iraq & Afghanistan. From what I recall, the NZ army had a fairly high proportion of Māori troops and included cross-cultural stuff like that inside their military ceremonies. So, I’m not sure whether or not it is problematic, but I feel probably less so than people who didn’t encounter it in daily life?
posted by corb at 8:20 AM on May 26


If people spend too much time contemplating the human cost of war, they may be unwilling to uncritically support US military action.

I actually think that unthinking acceptance of military action is the secondary motivation for the unceasing, breathless worship and celebration of those who serve. The primary motivation is to provide cover for every budget cut, every cutoff of medical coverage, every denial of long term disability from injuries, every way to shave a cent off of what the government spends on the people who signed up to be the bodily property of that government.

Every time I see someone loudly bloviating about heroism, remember the subtext is that heroes die and are maimed and that's just a thing that just sort of inevitably happens and it's what they signed up for.

It's the candy-coated version, sure, but it provides sure and simple support for not spending more money on those who serve after they're no longer useful to the machine.
posted by tclark at 8:45 AM on May 26 [14 favorites]


I have thoughts on this topic, but I also want to share a relevant piece on the discussion happening above:
The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can’t win.
Previously on Metafilter.
posted by Ouverture at 10:58 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


Dude nailed it.
posted by twidget at 12:21 PM on May 26


When I was in junior high school Memorial Day was the day we got into the station wagon and drove up the mountain to the Dinky Creek area. We sat in back, Jim, Dennis, Darlene, Barbara, and me. Their parents drove. Up Tollhouse Grade, about an hour negotiating switchbacks on the steep, two lane road, stopping at the half-way point to let the car's engine cool down. We spent most of the day listening to the Indy 500. A local boy, Billy Vukavich, drove. I remember the day, not the date, though, that he was killed. At the top, the first thing was to unpack the lunch--so typical, so stereotypical, so dependable: fried chicken, potato salad, chips apple pie. After that, we spent the rest of the day running wild through the forest, climbing rocks, playing in the cold mountain water. We started back down the mountain at dark. We kids usually slept all the way down.

That's what I did then, when I was a kid.

I spent eight years in the army. Now I have a different notion about Memorial Day. Over the past 45 years, since I've been a civilian, Memorial Day has grown increasingly less gloomy for me, but it's still about the dead guys.
posted by mule98J at 1:31 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


My extended family observes Memorial Day by cleaning the gravestones of my dad, grandfather, and uncle who are buried in adjacent plots in their small town and were all veterans. I think that's a lovely tribute but personally, I observe my dad's birthday - never ever his death day - because I celebrated it with him 48 times, more than any other milestone in his life.

People occasionally say, "thanks for your service," when I present a USAA debit or credit card and I just say, "thank you, it was my dad."
posted by bendy at 10:01 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


disappointing that even the most clear-headed among the veterans still think

Perhaps that person isn't as clear-headed as y'all like to assume.

My friends died in training accidents or they killed themselves.

....
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:52 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


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