Monday
May312010

« A More Complete Memorial Day »

It is Memorial Day once again. And once again, I went to skim the older entries so as to not totally repeat myself, even if much of it still resonates the same for me. I guess this year I want to memorialize the undignified deaths faced by people who are essentially forgotten, some because they are of no seeming consequence before death, maybe even deemed as nuisances, and therefore their deaths are somehow okay. This is by no means comprehensive; just enough to sketch the idea before running off to do laundry with the wifey. Mourn as you see fit, if you can find it in your busy day between the backyard grill time and the sappy TV specials glorifying our dead national warriors. Let it suggest a fuller picture of death in America.

  • Car accident victims and other traffic deaths, including bike accidents, drunk driving, red light running
  • Gang members
  • Drug addicts and murder victims (domestic and foreign) linked to the pursuit of self medication to dull the existential pain of our postmodern society
  • Foreign born workers who fall into industrial machinery in "industrial accidents"
  • Suicides
  • Medical experimentees at the hands of death-defying doctors giddy with technology
  • The uninsured people who can't get medical service access, medications, while other nations get the stuff donated when in need
  • Homeless people dying on the street
  • Latin American "illegal immigrants" crossing the desert to find a better life after being economically displaced from their homelands
  • Violent deaths from hate crimes of homophobia, racism, domestic violence
  • Slow deaths associated with increasingly toxic environments for kids, workers, 9/11 clean up crews, others
  • Coal mine and oil rig explosions, a comment on our addictive love affair with hydrocarbon power
  • Plane crash victims, flown around by woefully underpaid professional pilots working with little rest or dignity

I don't suppose any such victims will populate the TV news tonight. Even most churches will fall prey to seeing this day as a time to give a little "rah-rah!" to the lost ones of war on foreign shores (mainly, of course we had the Civil War) as they fought Caesar's battles. But what about all the people who die fighting for their own lives and dignity or their own vision of the great American Way, or who are up against the domestic enemies so vast they stand little or no chance of even knowing what hit them? Some are forgotten before they die; deaths of social neglect; others are deaths by social commission it seems. Economic deaths. Industrial deaths. Deaths driven by the needs of individual's egos. They come in all varieties and happen all day and every day. There is no holiday to remember deaths such as these, at least not to bring them all under one umbrella so we can get a fuller picture of death in America. Today is about the best opportunity we have to do that.

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