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Letter to the Editor: Reflection on Memorial Day Apologies

I imagine most counties have special ways of recognizing their war dead, but beyond the parades and speeches and graveside visits, aren’t we really apologizing to the young who will never know the bloom of their lives? Never marry. Never raise a child. Never be one of “we the people” who have helped build this country.

John Dunne said, “Any man’s death diminishes me/For I am involved in mankind.” Don’t we of all nations need to begin apologizing to those who die or to return with physical and mental wounds that will last their lifetime? If we were violent by nature, then it would be easy to be the willing instruments of those deaths without trying to prevent them.

When Albert Einstein asked Sigmund Freud if we were violent by nature, his reply was, yes, because our histories (of most countries) show that we have always been at war. So Freud never really answered the question because he put the blame on history not people individually.

Mothers don’t mean for their children to die when they send them off to war. But some of those children never return. What if a mother or father remembers the 1960s poster and bumper sticker “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” Maybe at that moment they would realize, worldwide, that if enough individuals felt and acted that way, all the laws of the governments and profits of the war profiteers would die and no longer have meaning.

All nations are “we the people,” and we have the power to tell the nuclear companies that we don’t want potential death a few miles upstream, and we don’t want any more presidents telling us that the mission was accomplished or putting just 30,000 more lives (the surge) up for death in a distant land.

Five buffoons on the Supreme Court have sold our right to democracy to corporations and the wealthy. Our constitution gives “we the people” the power to change the work of fools. But it will take the hardest discipline from all of us, for the first time in our history, to value life over money and peace over war.

Roger Simpson
Santa Barbara

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