Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

King George V of Great Britain decorating a soldier of the AEF
I will admit to having mixed feelings about Memorial Day, despite my unqualified support for the U.S. military, due to the origin of the holiday. It began as a very partisan celebration, honoring only the U.S. war dead of the American Civil War. Southern states had to come up with their own holidays to honor the Confederate war dead. No matter which side one takes in that conflict, the Union victory spelled doom for at least one monarchy -that south of the border as the northern victory allowed the U.S. to bring its full diplomatic and military pressure to bear on France, ensuring their evacuation to Mexico and then to support the republican victory with money, men and guns. After the First World War the holiday was extended to include the AEF war dead and later it was expanded to include all the dead of all the wars fought by the United States. It became an official federal holiday in 1967. So, when prompted by Memorial Day, I try to ignore the origins of the holiday (best I can) and focus on those occasions when American forces have died in wars which saw monarchs restored to their proper thrones, and keeping in mind of course, that the military and government policy are two different things and simply salute the courage and valor of the American fighting men throughout history who have never failed in the tasks assigned them.
King George VI inspecting the crew of USS George Washington


  1. "It began as a very partisan celebration, honoring only the U.S. war dead of the American Civil War".

    OK, I understand that this is a touchy topic, and I don't mean to sound insulting about people, on any side, who died fighting for what they thought was right. But I disagree. From the point of view of the U.S., the Confederates were enemies of the U.S. One does not normally commemorate fallen enemies along with one's own war dead. It is not a matter of being partisan, as if one were favoring one party within a nation over another, it is simply a matter of favoring those who fought for the nation over those who fought against it. I mean, the Confederates themselves claimed to be a separate nation during the war.

  2. But it was exactly the northern position that they were not fighting a separate nation but that they were fighting one party within a nation. However, my use of the word "partisan" was not intented to be derogatory but in keeping with simple definition of the word: favoring one side over another and I can think of nothing more partisan than a war in which you are necessarily fighting to favor one side and destroy another.

    Certainly it is only natural that the U.S. government would only honor soldiers of the U.S. army. I would also think it only natural that those on the 'other side' would be reluctant to honor those who fought against them, especially when the war was fought in their country or their half of the country (depending on your view) and their country which suffered all the ruination.

    I would not expect the Union to honor dead Confederates (some later did to try to foster a true sense of reconciliation and reunion but that didn't last long). By the same token though I would not expect southerners to honor Union forces who did such things as give troops permission to rape any woman in New Orleans or whose forces burned every city, farm and home from Atlanta to Savannah. The north will cheer them for forcing the southern states to submit to northern rule, perfectly understable, but the south will not join in.

    All that being said of course, that is not the prevailing point of view today as most now accept that the northern cause was right, the southerners were wrong and the union must be adhered to in any circumstances. Once in -never out.

  3. And what of Obama playing golf on this day? Saw an article on the Telegraph about that.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...