Oh, wouldn't America's scores of war dead be just tickled to know, were they able to know or experience anything at all, that in honor of Memorial Day today, Value Village thrift stores are having a 50% off sale!

Wouldn't those cut down in the prime of their lives in the most gruesome and terrifying situations be proud to know that you could be part of the "savings generation" now? For all the heart-felt and sincere expressions we offer in gratitude to those who died in military service today, for all the flowers and wreaths we bring to gravesites, for all the teary moments we spend in somber reflection about the cost of war, ultimately, we are hypocrites and failures. Our war dead can't hear us, after all; there's nothing whatsoever Memorial Day does for them, despite our good intentions. We can thank our veterans and active military for their service, but a once-a-year thanks doesn't really mean much when the 364 other days we ignore them upon their return, and the burdens they and their families are left with.

Imagine any other situation today where it would be acceptable to say to a large group of our young people, "Hey, we are going to ship you off for a few years to an incredibly-dangerous place where there's no doubt some of you will die or be gravely injured. About one-third of you will return with a mental-health disorder such as depression or PTSD, which may be very difficult to treat and leaves you at greater risk for developing dementia. Even more of you will come back as chronic alcoholics or substance abusers, affecting every area of your personal and professional lives. Every day, 1000 of you will attempt suicide, and 18 will succeed. Your government-promised health services are so messed up that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Veterans Administration to fix its 'unchecked incompetence.' And, by the way, all of your sacrifices are for corporate oil wars which we have zero chance of "winning," and will only serve to further inflame the terrorists you are supposed to intimidate into inaction. Have a nice day, kids!"

Imagine a country that valued its citizens more than to do this to them. Speak up and speak out -- call or write your government representatives and let them know that if we continue to send people into war that at the very, very least those who return should receive the finest care our country can offer. Period. How about spending your Memorial Day Tuesday doing that instead of buying flowers or filling up your cart at Value Village?

"Come Up From The Fields, Father" -- Walt Whitman (1900)

Come up from the fields, father, here's a letter from our Pete,
And come to the front door, mother, here's
     a letter from thy dear son.
Lo, 'tis autumn,
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio's villages with leaves
     fluttering in the moderate wind,
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and
     grapes on the trellis'd vines,
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately buzzing?)
Above all, lo, the sky so calm, so transparent
     after the rain, and with wondrous clouds,
Below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful,
     and the farm prospers well.
Down in the fields all prospers well,
But now from the fields come, father, come
     at the daughter's call,
And come to the entry, mother, to the front door come right away.
Fast as she can she hurries, something ominous,
     her steps trembling,
She does not tarry to smooth her hair nor
     adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly,
0 this is not our son's writing, yet his name
     is sign'd,
0 a strange hand writes for our dear son,
     0 stricken mother's soul!
All swims before her eyes, flashes with black,
     she catches the main words only,
Sentences broken, gunshot wound in the breast,
     cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.

Ah, now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio with all
     its cities and farms,
Sickly white in the face and dull in the head,
     very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.

Grieve not so, dear mother (the just-grown
     daughter speaks through her sobs,
The little sisters huddle around speechless and
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will
     soon be better.

Alas, poor boy, he will never be better (nor maybe
     needs to be better, that brave and simple soul),
While they stand at home at the door he is
     dead already,
The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better,
She with thin form presently drest in black,
By day her meals untouch'd, then at night
     fitfully sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with
     one deep longing,
0 that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent
     from life escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead