Over the course of the past week, I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts commemorating Memorial Day, and honoring those who have died while serving in the armed forces. This is a very fitting thing, obviously. Some of these posts are a bit disturbing, though, because they go beyond just offering respect for the fallen and co-opt the holiday, and all of the dead, to make some political or religious commentary with a decidedly partisan slant.
As we observe this holiday, let’s remember that those who have given their lives in service to our country were people of all different descriptions.
They were White, Black, Asian, and Native American; with ethnic heritages as broad as the planet itself.
They were male and female.
They were straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.
They were Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Green, and Independent; politically liberal, moderate, and conservative.
They were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Pagan, Wiccan, Atheist, Agnostic, and a raft of other religious expressions.
They came from north, south, east, and west; from dense urban settings, sparsely populated rural areas, and everything in between.
They came from families rich, poor, and in between, knowing both privilege and oppression.
Many, many of them gave their lives in service to this country, defending your Constitutionally-protected rights and mine, even while they were barred by law from fully enjoying their own.
Let’s remember and honor them all – recognizing the full spectrum of who they were, what they believed, and what they personally stood for. And let’s never cheapen their memory by using their death to bolster some narrow political or religious agenda that they’d never have supported in life. They deserve better.
Through their sacrifice, they’ve not only illustrated the greatness of the diversity of this country, they’ve also sealed in blood what was first promised in ink – that all Americans have the right to equal protection under the law. If, after their deaths, we would deny full and equal justice and civil rights to all who are now as those dead once were – if we demean their political or religious beliefs, their race or ethnicity, their gender or gender identity, or their sexual orientation – then we dishonor their service and their sacrifice in a way that won’t be repaired by just waving flags or wearing poppies in our lapels.
Let’s respect the dead by respecting the living, and working to truly establish liberty and justice for all. The diversity of the dead has eliminated any justifiable concept of “them” in our society. Through the blood ante, now there’s only “us.”