Memorial Day is always a time of mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I wholeheartedly wish to honor the men and women who have fallen in battle so that I can enjoy the freedom this country offers. And make no mistake, this country has many faults, but I know I live with the freedom to follow my vision, my aspirations, my soul’s yearnings, and that is everything. I am grateful, not only to the fallen soldiers, but to everyone who has helped build this country.
On the other hand, I believe that this country’s war machine is no longer about protecting freedom. It has become, rather, big business. Astronomical business, actually. War is what keeps our economy afloat. It also seems to be the preferred method of siphoning dollars from the middle class to line the pockets of the 1%. The Iraq war alone funnel two trillion dollars from the Middle Class to the stockholders of Halliburton, Raytheon, DynCorp International, Hewlett-Packard, Pratt & Whitney, General Electric, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed alone bleeds over thirty-five billion from taxpayers each year. The list of corporate fat cats goes on and on, like pigs at a trough.
I’m convinced the powers that be—the people who manipulate our puppet politicians—didn’t want the war to end, they want to keep that cash cow flowing for as longs as the American public had more money to pinch. The American defense industry is the most powerful, most profitable, most corrupt industry in the world. And the cornerstone of its foundation is trading lives for profits.
So while I bow my head to give thanks to those who have fallen in defense of my freedom, I can’t help but be angered by soldiers who willingly risk their lives and taxpayers who allow their money to go to wars that do nothing to safeguard this country, wars that only make the 1% richer and keep the wheels of commerce turning.
It’s possible I’m simply an old fool, but I like to think that if America were to put as much time, energy, and recourses into international diplomacy coupled with helping to eradicate world poverty, then this country could reduce our military spending by 90%, perhaps eliminate the military altogether. Imagine a world at peace because everyone on the planet has adequate food and shelter. I dream of such a place.