This year, having recently visited the cemetery near the beaches at Normandy, Memorial Day has a deeper and more personal significance for me. Real people lost their lives on those beaches, doing something I am not sure I have it in me to have done.
When they conceived of the Gatling Gun, they believed they had invented a weapon of such devastation, it would finally put an end to war. The same went for the machine gun. TNT. Nitroglycerine. Submarines. The fighter plane. The A-bomb. Nuclear weapons. And who knows what next.
It was argued that international capitalism would preclude conflicts between "trading partners." But that didn't work either.
A century ago, World War I was proclaimed "The War To End All Wars." But since then, warriors around the world are still fighting and dying. Women, rather than applying their mitigating influences to curtail combat, insist instead on participating in it.
Though the strategic nature of combat has changed, war itself persists, and innocent people - participants and non - continue to perish.
Wouldn't it be great if Memorial Day became exclusively a respectful recognition of the combatants of the past?
I think so.
So how come it isn't happening?
Why is it continually necessary to fight?