Thursday, April 17, 2008

To Make Memorial Day Memorable

In 1969, over Memorial Day, Life Magazine devoted an issue to pictures of 242 American soldiers who had died in Vietnam in a recent week. While the nation, the editors said, was being "numbed" by a "statistic which is translated to direct anguish in hundreds of homes all over the country, we must pause to look into the faces. More than we must know how many, we must know who."

It made the country stop and think. This Memorial Day, the best way to honor the dead of all America's wars would be to look at those who died in Iraq and see them as people, not statistics.

On a cable news network or PBS, at the rate of one every ten seconds, it would take more than 11 hours to bring their faces, names and home towns to the TV screens of American homes.

Doing so would not be a political statement, but a reminder as concrete as the Vietnam Memorial in Washington of the human meaning of the words "sacrifice" and "honor."

Deep in the bowels of the New York Times' web site, the faces are now there in a composite for those who want to seek them out, but they deserve to be seen everywhere, however fleetingly, to bring the war home on Memorial Day.

Amid the usual speeches, parades and flag-waving, it would make the holiday truly meaningful this year.

1 comment:

Larry Jones said...

Why stop at this war, or the U.S. army? Why not show all the dead and mutilated from all the freakin' wars and armies? And the victims of "collateral damage," too. They also died with honor. We've got the bandwidth -- 800 channels and nothing to watch, you say? Put 'em all on. Show the glory of making "the ultimate sacrifice" in the name of human greed and stupidity.

Make the country stop and think? As if.