Memorial Day, which used to always be May 30, is now held on the last Monday in May for the convenience of holiday trippers. So, for those of you busy with the BBQ, the braised beef, and the baked beans, you might want to take a moment – perhaps a single minute at 3 p.m. today – to ask yourself two simple questions: “What is Memorial Day All About?” and “Does Truth Matter?”
Memorial Day Is To Remember
Memorial Day is to remember the deeds, both quiet and heroic, done by those entrusted with keeping this great experiment in democracy and argument safe from those who would tear it down. From the images used on various news media outlets today one might surmise the greatest and most iconic of those deeds would be the memorable flag raising on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on February 23, 1945. Without pictures you might be hard-pressed to remember Mount Suribachi at all and, without words, even where it is located.
Above we see the iconic photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, a rendering on the cover of a war bonds pamphlet, and the image enshrined in bronze as the U.S. Marines war memorial.
Memorial Day Is About Truth
Today, as the country has been engaged in nearly 20 years of multiple unwinnable wars, we might find Homer’s Iliad, a story of the horrors of seemingly never-ending war, as our recent history, and its companion, the Odyssey, as a somewhat paranormal guide to our present journey. Can we seek the truth in our current culture of lies? Or is it, as Col. Nathan Jessup, Jack Nicolson’s powerful character portrayal in A Few Good Men screamed at us from the screen, “You can’t handle the truth!”
I will leave it up to you to decide. Does truth matter or not? Do we care how the world sees us? Is our word, even our ratified signature on a treaty, worth anything at all anymore? Was it ever?
Did you know that the photo above, with its beautiful pyramidal power stance and large and glorious star spangled banner, is actually a staged fake, shot some two hours after the actual flag raising – a spontaneous event – over Mount Suribachi? But, for the keepers of the truth, the men didn’t seem to be as engaged as history would demand and, worst of all, the flag, carried in the back pack of one of the participants, was much too small.
Look at the picture to the left. It is the original. It is the truth. These are the men who really raised the flag on a mostly unknown hill on Iwo Jima that day. Notice the soldier on guard with the M1-A1 carbine. The fact that the fight to take that hill (and the beaches, for that matter) still raged only yards away, wasn’t enough for the story tellers.
When history becomes a lie, how can we expect the truth from those in our government?