Sunday evening, I was both moved and angered by the Lockheed-Martin Production of the National Memorial Day Concert. Prominently among the dignitaries sat Colin Powell as an honored guest and pontificator. The show was broadcast on Sunday evening prime time, not even on Memorial Day itself. Sadly, it had the tone of an infomercial. http://video.pbs.org/video/2365477756/
The musical interludes of the show were interspersed with segments showing the heroic actions of veterans who are striving to overcome the wounds exacted on them by the lies of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell and their sycophants. While it is quite important for all of us to recognize and be aware of the sacrifices given, the vignettes of the wounded and lost screamed to evoke pity and had the cheap tone of a picture of a thin, crying child in a feed-the-poor-starving children ad. The production included subtle and heavy advertising for its commercial sponsors glorifying the war machine. The whole production had a lack of seriousness of tone that substituted an understanding of the gravity and tragedy of war for rosy patriotic feel-good.
How the producers of the “celebration” could sit one of the authors of their injuries, Colin Powell, there on national television as a featured presenter is an act as cynical and corrupt as can be imagined. http://video.pbs.org/video/2365478624/
Powell did not apologize for his participation in the lies that killed so many.
After watching the show, I felt I had participated in a cheap, dishonorable experience. A requiem would have been more appropriate.
On Memorial Day, I always think about a military casualty in my family, my first cousin Larry, a year older than I. In 1967, instead of going on to college, Larry enlisted in the Navy. Larry served continuously until June 1995 when he died of mesothelioma on active duty sick leave with the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. Larry served his career in the asbestos filled bowels of numerous engine rooms. His last posting was at Guantanamo where he instructed new sailors on how to run a ship’s engines. He loved his time in the Navy. Larry gave his all to the country, including loss of his family and contact with his child in a divorce due to long separations on cruises and his life cut short.
Every Memorial Days, we should also remember those who did not die in battle or as a result of battle, but who died because of the industrial hazards of running a military. They served as assigned and did their jobs loyally, without any glory. We must honor them.
On this day, not only should we celebrate the gift from those who served, we should also seek repentance as a nation for the mistakes made that we, as a People, allowed and encouraged. We should repent for allowing asbestos and other carcinogenic substances, burn pits, and radioactive ammunition to imperil our service members because of budgetary restraints. We should repent for assigning terrible officers like the Lt. Colonel of the “B” 2/5 Cavalry at Ap Bu Nho described in Col. Lang's post yesterday.
Most of all, at this moment in our history, we as a nation should repent for the Iraq invasion, a war based in knowing deception and national hubris. We should not let the Lockheed-Martins of the world engulf us in a false patriotism that omits the moral culpability of our actions abroad.
The Iraq invasion was no intelligence failure. Instead, known fake intelligence was used to deceive the American People to believe that they were mortally threatened when they were not and to believe they were attacking a regime responsible for 9-11 when they were not.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/text-of-president-bushs-speech-07-10-2002/ http://web.archive.org/web/20060514140012/http://www.house.gov/reform/min/pdfs_108_2/pdfs_inves/pdf_admin_iraq_on_the_record_rep.pdf http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/03/18/911-and-iraq-the-wars-greatest-lie/ http://themoderatevoice.com/121921/ten-years-later-belief-in-iraq-connection-with-911-attack-persists/
The consequences flowing from these lies and our national failure to discern that our leaders were liars in time to stop their perfidy has had, and will continue to have, terrible consequences. Until We the People can come to grips with our failures in Iraq, we cannot begin to correct the errors of our belief in our exceptionalism. That belief will destroy US if we do not moderate it.
Instead of sitting as an honored guest last night, Colin Powel should be sitting in ashes and sackcloth before the alter of some church in repentance for the evil he has brought into the world by his knowing participation in the greatest lie ever perpetrated on the American People. Powell, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the others should be shunned and dishonored until they acknowledge and repent of their crimes against the nation and the world. Yet, those and many others who acted in concert with them still are not brought to any accountability for their actions that have harmed so many. It is like the infomercial for US last night, we enjoy the pomp of the cynically choreographed ceremony on the Capitol steps and steadfastly ignore the circumstance of the disaster that is Iraq. Until we, here in the U.S., can stand as a nation knowing and admitting our moral failure, we cannot fix the problem. Repentance is central to redemption.
As a part of our Memorial Day celebrations, we should add a ceremony of national repentance for the damage we, the American People, have allowed to be inflicted upon millions in this New American Century so that we do not commit the same crimes again.