have you ever wondered why it seems like memorial day is just like veteran’s day? every year we commemorate our fallen soldiers and reflect on what it means to be a nation at (what seems like) constant war. but aren’t the two different?
when i read this gorgeous op-ed in the Globe i realized what’s wrong: veteran’s day is our time to honor soldiers, but memorial day is — or ought to be — a time to think about war. more specifically, it was originally created as a day to remember and continue to heal the rift caused by the Civil War, a rift that continues to play itself out throughout our national politics. i think it’s safe to say we’re more interested in barbecues and politically safe memorial services than any sober, profound interrogation of what it means to have entered into deadly and devastating conflict with ourselves and other peoples. and certainly the fact that we have had such conflict within our own landscape is not something that goes well with hot dogs.
and if you’re interested in learning more about king philip’s war, read jill lepore’s luminous the name of war. she’s an incredible scholar and a great writer and encourages the kind of long-range thinking about history’s perpetual relevance that is unique and wonderful to find.