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Memorializing Mythology

This morning, I wandered to Facebook and saw photographs of my nephew Chase and all the Veteran’s Day acknowledgements. He died Aug. 6, 2005 in Iraq. I scrolled, reading comments—expressions of condolence to my brother. Words intended to comfort. Like these: “… he lost his life protecting ours” and “… proud to know that he served me by serving our country.”

These are two examples of myths designed to manipulate emotions and shape thought. Convincing the masses that our lives are safer because “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Convincing the masses that the soldier is serving each of us by “serving our country.” When the truth of war’s lies is that the conflict is about hegemony, control of resources, increasing the wealth of the already filthy wealthy—those that harness the economy.

Add to this the myth of glory, the uniform, medals and ribbons. That there is honor in killing. In death, a Purple Heart, a flag-draped coffin.

If one analyzed motives for war, using a criminal-investigation model, the salient question would be: Who profits? The answer: Wall Street with its defense companies (like Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin), their CEOs and shareholders, the corporate media, and the politicians dazzled by the rush of representing Wall Street companies and appearing as “experts” on those mainstream news outlets.

And even if Congress represented us, we the people, enough we the people embrace the necessary mythology to continue the carnage.

“Thank you for your sacrifice. You are America’s heroes.” These are the mind-numbing banalities uttered recurrently by those who send troops to kill fellow human beings, the platitudes of men who sought deferment after deferment during conscription. And from you, the ordinary anyone (s). You who do nothing to reflect on what’s being done in your name. You who may not know or question (if you do know) why about 22 veterans commit suicide each day. You who have or haven’t looked at photographs of children murdered by war. You who may be too blind to see.

Some of my readers have written in response to articles, telling me war would end if no one enlisted or if military men and women refused to deploy. Perhaps that was a possibility prior to the development of drone warfare. Today, if there were no standing army, sociopaths, such as congressional hawks, a swarm of CEOs, and members of the news industry, enthusiastically would operate joysticks, orgasmic when they incinerated a “target”.

Today it is Nov. 11, Armistice Day, conceived to commemorate peace and now called Veteran’s Day in the USA. Memorializing mythology.

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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