By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 10/21/2017
Posted: 5/31/2010
Topics/Keywords: #MemorialDay #NatalAvenue #Zachary Page Views: 908
Zach shoots his BB gun, I photograph our garden, and we ponder the meaning of Memorial Day.

What could be more appropriate on Memorial Day, than to send the kids out to do target practice?

Michael had promised Zachary that, when he turned 11, he (Michael) would get a BB gun and allow Zachary to use it, but only under supervision. They bought the BB gun (actually, rifle) yesterday and today was the first day he got to use it. I was the one providing the supervision, which is an easy job because Zachary is so responsible anyway. After all, the kid has a black belt in Mixed Martial Arts. His own body is now more deadly a weapon than any BB gun; yet he has never misused it. He knows and understands not to use karate on family, friends, or pets. In fact, this summer he will be helping to teach the younger kids in his MMA school. Also, he got a badge in archery in Cub Scouts, and I've seen him hit a target with a crossbow while riding a bicycle. So I'm certainly not concerned that he will misuse any weapons.

And he actually owns quite a few. He has an impressive sword collection that he has amassed with his own money.

Since we have concrete walls on two sides of our yard, he chose one against which to set up his target, a "picture of a terrorist" that he drew (it looked like a tornado) on a paper taped to a box set on a TV table.

Zach ready to hit the target.

He's never held a rifle before (in this life) but he hit the target with his first shot.

Guns and roses.

Our rose garden was as far as Zach could get from the target without actually shooting from within the pool. As they were in full bloom, and I had the camera out, I couldn't resist getting a few shots of the prettiest blossoms.

Guns and roses have another relationship on Memorial Day, since this is the official day we pay homage to our American soldiers who died while on active duty (not necessarily in battle). In most communities where military dead are buried, wreaths of flowers are laid on their graves.

There are 146 designated National Cemeteries in the United States, most of which are military cemeteries. Some states also maintain military cemeteries of their own. In the South, state military cemeteries include among their burials Confederate soldiers, who, if the Civil War were happening today, would be designated terrorists.

But that just points out the reality that soldiers, no matter what their country of origin, truly believe in their cause and that the risks they take, and the sacrifices they make, are worthwhile because they defend the way of life they wish to protect for their families and children. That few (if any) wars are fought for the reasons given to the troops should not detract from the sacrifice made by the soldiers, or the sincerity of their hearts.

Many historians acknowledge that America's involvement in World War II began when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt allowed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Under instructions from President Lyndon Johnson, the NSA falsified reports about an attack on a US Navy ship in the Bay of Tonkin that was used to justify the Vietnam War. In 2006, President George W. Bush admitted publicly that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and had had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11/2001…yet over 3000 American soldiers had been killed there.

And for what?

No one denies that the solders believed their cause was just. They deserve all our admiration and respect, as do the men and women who served in Iraq and elsewhere and managed, thank the gods, to return safely.

Yet the underlying fact is, our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers and sons and daughters were lied to and put in harm's way for no other reason than to increase the profits of the enormously successful global war machine, including the banks that load money to both sides in every conflict.

Many people allow themselves to be blinded by patriotic fervor each Memorial Day, and listen to the words of those who profit by our military dead that to question the motives of war is to betray our loved ones who have died in battle.

I say, no! The betrayal is by those who put our loved ones in harm's way for their own profit. The only way to truly honor our military dead is to make sure no one else joins them.