Memorial Day in the Rearview Mirror

At cyber-speed, Memorial Day 2012, is fast slipping into history. But there are important things to note about this national day of remembrance... There were the usual parades and speeches (some heartfelt and grieving, some pious and patriotic) made about the brave servicemen and women who fought and died for our freedoms. But, speaking of remembrance, it seems evident that most Americans no longer recall just what those freedoms are.

American revolutionaries and soldiers didn't sacrifice their lives at Lexington and Concord, at Bull Run and Gettysburg, or on Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima so that our government could spy on its own citizens, conspire with investment bankers and corporate lobbyists to swindle us, throw us out of our homes and eliminate our jobs -- and then sic the police on us when we gathered to protest those crimes.

It's a matter of national life or death -- not just on Memorial Day (and Veteran's Day), but every day -- that we recall exactly what those men and women died for, in foreign lands and here in our own country. They sacrificed their lives fighting to protect and preserve our freedoms -- most particularly the freedom to gather together and speak out against any attempt to take those freedoms away.

While we're recollecting, there is nothing new about hired goons and uniformed guard dogs committing violence against citizens when their lords and masters, and the system of institutionalized greed they represent, are threatened.

It happened in 1770 on Boston Common. It happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries at the railway yards in Chicago, in the coal and copper mines of Pennsylvania and Idaho, and in the sweatshops of The Lower East Side in Manhattan. It happened at the Bonus Marcher's encampment in Washington, D.C. in 1932. It happened in Selma in 1965, and at Kent State in 1970. And it's happening right now in our cities and on our campuses. Ordinary Americans, gathering in protest, were -- and are -- beaten, shot, or thrown into prison without representation or trial.

The real point of this government violence is not that the soldiers and cops lost control, but that the "rabble" didn't know their place. They -- the wretched colonials, workers, blacks, women, gays, immigrants, the lower class -- forgot for a moment that they were subjects of the King, President, Governor, Mayor or Robber Baron.

When the "rabble" (i.e., you and I) are roused the real owners of the country step in to remind us where our rightful place is -- below them.

They say that the Occupy movement and anti-war protesters are breaking laws. That's true; Occupiers and other protestors across the country are breaking laws. They're trespassing, marching without permits, and, in some cases, violating local ordinances regulating noise and sanitation. Many of these "laws" have now metastasized -- at all government levels -- to meet the threat of "terrorism"--AKA, legitimate protest.

In the end, these trespasses are all minor offenses -- and, of course, they fade to nothing when compared with the major crimes that are being protested.

Occupiers on some small patch of public park? Occupiers in the street? They are only the palest reflection of The REAL occupiers; the obscenely rich and corporate executives -- the top few thousand of the population that controls most of the wealth of the country.

They and their army of lobbyists have occupied Congress, occupied The Supreme Court and occupied The White House.

The rich and their fake "grass-roots" political organizations and Super PACS occupy every state capitol, most city halls, almost all broadcast and print newsrooms and most university executive offices. They are a colonial power that has taken over our land, our economy and our government.

"Give me liberty or give me death," said Patrick Henry. A lot of brave people died for the cause of liberty -- and we set aside a day to remember them. But do Americans remember or even understand what that liberty was?

Tea Partiers and their wind-up politicians are fond of making pious pronouncements about "The Founders" and the heroes of the American Revolution -- rhink of Paul Revere and his warning that the King's troops had landed and were advancing to destroy people who were gathering to fight for liberty. Well, The Occupy movement and other activists are sounding the same alarm right now because they understand (along with millions of other citizens) that our country is more than half-way down the road to becoming a fascist state -- where big business and state power are completely merged. That's one of the main things all those soldiers died for -- the right for people to sound that alarm without fear of reprisal.

Occupy lost most of its physical presence over this past winter but the movement has permanently injected its two primary messages -- the evils of income inequality and the fact that the our essential right to free speech is in dire jeopardy -- into the national consciousness.
Most of the encampments are gone, but the spirit of the movement endures and is thriving -- despite the government's efforts at suppression and the media's constant ridicule and disregard. The essence of the message endures for the simple reason that Occupy is just the latest incarnation of the original American revolution; we are, and of a right, ought to be, free. Free from the censorious, even fatal grip of the rich and powerful.

George Carlin once said, "They call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." Well, Americans are finally awakening from a 40-year consumer-obsessed, entertainment-addled, political campaign rhetoric-induced coma. No one can say what will happen now -- but one thing's for sure; There is no neutral: ether we evolve into an actual democracy or become a nation of sheep.

The Founders knew what they were fighting for. And every generation we have to learn all over again -- that the sacrifices of the American Revolution, The Civil War and World War II are not meant to be cheap fodder for hack politicians' speeches or mere words lying inert in some history text.

The American Revolution is alive. It has no "sell by" date.

It doesn't stop at red lights and it doesn't pause for commercials. It's happening right now and it will keep happening until the last free citizen has been silenced.

So, Memorial day has come gone... As on other Memorial Days we barbecued, got responsibly drunk and snatched great deals on plasma TV's; and, incidentally, squeezed in a few tearful glances at the flag. But memories of struggle and death don't just live in one official holiday -- they don't end when the clock ticks over into a new day. Every day of the year it behooves us to remember the freedoms American soldiers died for in the righteous battles they fought.

If we let those freedoms completely atrophy and crumble into dust, then all those deaths will have been without meaning and all our memorials will be nothing but a sad, empty joke.

(Memorial Day In The Rear View Mirror is now a major motion picture -- at least for five minutes on YouTube. Just go to YouTube and search "Federfiles.")