Memorial Day, USA
In spite of, or because of, my personal and religious commitment to pacifism I find I am a real softy when it comes to memorials to fallen soldiers. I can remember getting very weeping over lists of soldiers who have died in one conflict of another. And yet, I have never know a person who died in a conflict or even a family that had someone die. I have had a couple of wet eyed moment already today over what I have read and sen on TV.In spite of the fact I would never volunteer to go to war, I admire those who willingly answer their governments call. It is the futility of war and the waste of lies fighting them than make wartime deaths so poignant to me.
There are very few wars that are justified. I do not accept the mythical justifications for them: patriotism, protect our freedom, honour etc. With a little research it is not hard to learn that wars are never fought for the reason used to lead a Nation's young to fight them. Wars are really a testament to the failure of a Nation's political leadership. Wars are fought for lies and usually economic reasons. (So be it. I don't expect anyone to agree with me.) In any case, my cynical views do not diminish the respect I have for those who have fought and died for their government.
I am always impressed with the respect Europeans have for the sacrifices of foreign soldiers in the First and Second World Wars. They are the ones who can justifiably claim their freedom was paid for by the sacrifice of soldiers who stepped up. This is particularly true in the Netherlands. The Dutch have never forgotten the debt they feel they owe others. Yearly they celebrate their liberation by the Canadians, Americans and British. They teach it to their children and now the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those liberated are remembering.
I don't thinks Americans fully appreciate the respect their soldiers are shown in the Netherlands and Belgium as well as other places in Europe. Canadians take some pride in their efforts to liberate the low countries and the special relationship we have had with the Dutch Royal Family. I believe we are more aware of being appreciated. Each year memorial services are held and cemetaries are visited remembering the soldiers who died and were buried in their country.
Margraten Cemetary in the Netherlands
Margraten Cemetary is the largest American War Cemetary in the Netherlands. It holds the graves of 8301 American soldiers and 1700 missing from the Battle of Arnhem.
Since the Second World War individuals have adopted particular graves and visited, tended the grave and remembered the soldiers over the years. Some have even maintained a relationship with the soldiers relatives over the years. There actually is a waiting list to adopt a grave, remarkably after all these years. Here is a story from Radio Netherlands International. It is interesting to visit on the Internet the War Cemetaries in Europe. I recommend it if you are interested at all in history.
It would ber nice for Americans to know that on Memorial Day they are not the only ones to remember and appreciate the death of their soldiers in war.