According to President George W. Bush, Memorial Day is a day on which we as Americans ‘honor the warriors who fought our nation’s enemies, defended the cause of liberty and gave their lives in the cause of freedom.’ Bush made this statement during the president’s annual Memorial Day Address at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a shame that every American citizen does not heed these words.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, there were several acts of vandalism and delinquency not only against the men and women in uniform, but also against the graves of veterans.
In a Memorial Day parade in Massachusetts, the color guards, mostly made up of former U.S. Marines, were readying for the 21-gun salute, the most timeless of Memorial Day tributes. In an obvious show of disrespect, two teens began throwing eggs in order to prevent them from completing the salute. They were unsuccessful, however, and the tribute was completed, but there is a larger issue at hand.
Across the country, in Washington, the graves of many veterans had small American flags placed on them. Last Sunday morning, many of those flags were burned, some were defaced and still others were replaced by white flags with swastikas on them. This ‘display’ wrecked almost 100 gravesites at a military cemetery and the perpetrators have yet to be found.
The graves that were disrespected belonged to men and women who died in service to this nation, and they and their families deserve much better then to have their graves desecrated in anticipation of the day that is meant to honor their service and sacrifice.
These shows of disrespect are merely two out of many. It is not an acceptable form of protest for people who happen to be politically against the War on Terror to act out against anything that they deem representative of the military.
People in this country have come to learn that whenever they say that they are against the war, they must also say that they support the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States Armed Forces.
It is not un-American to be against the war; there have been many generations of Americans who haven’t supported every action taken by our government. However, it is un-American to go out of one’s way to be disrespectful to someone in uniform or someone who used to wear a uniform. It is one thing to act out against authority, as some psychiatrists say is normal, but to act out in this way is borderline obscene.
The men and women who wear the uniform of this country should be treated with the utmost respect because they sacrifice themselves so that we don’t need to. Those who have served in the past have protected a way of life that we take for granted.
Many of the desecrated graves belonged to people who served in World War II, people who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that a war would not be fought on our soil, so that our country could remain free. These men and women deserve so much more than we give them; we don’t understand what it is that they give for us.
This is what Memorial Day is all about: reminding ourselves about these sacrifices so that we truly never forget. We owe it to the men and women of our armed forces to treat them with respect and dignity, regardless of our political opinions.
Alex Chazen is a third-year political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.