It is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.
The holiday originally was called Decoration Day and was a day of remembrance for Union soldiers who died in the American Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include soldiers who died in any war. It more recently was expanded to allow retailers to shamelessly peddle their stuff at those ubiquitous if dying monuments to rampant capitalism -- the shopping mall.
As always, I've hung an American flag outside of Kiko's House this Memorial Day, a 48-star banner that long waved outside the rural Minnesota farmhouse of my love's Norwegian immigrant forebears.
As always, I will keep the weekend simple and go for a hike and perhaps a swim in our spring-fed mountain pool (brr!).
As always, I will remember that freedom of speech is not protected by journalists like myself but by the men and women who have given their lives to defend American values.
As always, I will feel a sadness over loved ones and friends who will not be with us because of their sacrifices.
But this Memorial Day is different. So have too many holidays of remembrance as I have slouched into my dotage. Besides being sad, I also am angry -- a slow burn, I suppose -- over the mess that we've made of our once great country.
As my cousin
was fond of saying, dissent and bickering are the soundtrack of a democracy. But this should be a golden age for County Bumpkin and it is anything but. I cannot recall a time in my life when so few have so much and so many are struggling. America
When an unrelenting fear rules our lives and the president's narcissistic craziness indelibly colors our country and culture.
When America's heart and soul -- its middle class -- is so beleaguered.
When we are so incapable of a national consensus on anything beyond the belief that government and many of our institutions have failed us. That things only will get worse before they get better, if they ever get better.
So what’s to be done about this dismal state of affairs?
Such pessimism is uncharacteristic of me, let alone Americans in general, and I feel a twinge of shame that I am unable to be more upbeat this Memorial Day weekend. But my glass is well below half empty, especially when I reflect on the sacrifices our men and woman at arms are asked to make.
Sacrifices for what? An ill-focused War on Terror? The pathetic war in Afghanistan? Preparing for the next war with an evil nut who has access to the nuclear codes as commander in chief?
You tell me.
-- Love and Peace, SHAUN