Memorial Day is a double-whammy for me.
You see, my son Casey was born on Memorial Day 29 years ago.
When he was growing up, we would gather dozens of our friends and relatives to celebrate his birthday.
Now a few of us gather at his grave in Vacaville, California, to mourn his death and cry for his life that was stolen from him by George W. Bush.
Casey is not buried in a military cemetery, but there are many veterans of other wars buried in his cemetery.
The flags flutter on Memorial Day as living vets from many past wars salute the flags and their fallen comrades.
Seeing all the flags and the battered vets paying homage makes my stomach turn and my heart break for all the broken families that have had to pay needlessly high prices for this war, and other imperial wars, like Vietnam.
In Vacaville, there are many mothers whose sons were killed in Vietnam. I remember seeing them the first Memorial Day after Casey was killed. I sat with them at a ceremony and saw my future in their faces lined from years of grief and longing for the voice or the touch of a son that will never come.
On this Memorial Day, I would like you to take a few moments from your day off and stare into the faces of grief.
Go to a nearby military cemetery and look at the American flags stuck on each grave and think of the person buried there who was killed for the greed of empire or for the blunders, greed and hubris of a nation.
And remember, for every person buried there, at least ten more loved that person and were shattered by the loss. Instead of saluting, softly say: “I’m sorry.”
On this Memorial Day, remember, too, to look at the pictures of Iraqi children being lifted out of rubble after their homes have been bombed by U.S. jets.
Please say, “I’m sorry,” for them, also.
And let us not be fooled.
With a presidential election season upon us, we need to recognize the militarism of each candidate and realize that their positions on war and empire are not so different from each other.
We need to rededicate our lives to opposing empire, war and unbridled presidential power so that Memorial Day is not grief-soaked for thousands more families to come.
I know I will never experience Memorial Day as a holiday again.
For me, this is not a day to kick off the beginning of the summer season, or to have a leisurely cookout or to watch the Indy 500. And it’s no longer a day to have a birthday party for Casey.
For me and for thousands of families devastated by Bush’s wars, this is a day to solemnly reflect upon our personal loss – and on how our nation has lost its way.
Instead of resorting to violence and war, we need to honor life and to solve global problems peacefully.
We need to make Memorial Day a relic of the past.
Then I will celebrate.