Memorial Day is a US federal holiday wherein the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered.
This weekend and continuing through Monday Americans will witness countless varied acts of praise for those who have died in America’s wars. Ball games, parades, pancake breakfasts, even Sunday church service (Laurence Vance, be on alert) – one or more of these will offer opportunities for just about any patriotic American looking for an opportunity to worship.
Apparently, about 1.3 million Americans died in the wars since 1775 (not counting suicides, apparently one every 65 seconds since 1999). It is worth considering: for what did they die? Was any of it worth it?
(Note: I will not, in this post, examine the costs and devastation for those victims of American military aggression, more by orders of magnitude – Memorial Day does not recognize those who died on the other side….For the most part, apparently, Americans don’t care. There is no American holiday for you!)
I will spend the most digits on this war, as even the most principled anti-war critic might consider it an appropriate war.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War in the United States, was the successful military rebellion against Great Britain of Thirteen American Colonies…
Certainly, if there was one war worthwhile in the history of the United States, it would have to be this one. Who on earth could possibly disagree (well, besides King George)?
“Hey, back here…I have a question: Whose independence was won?”
It seems fair to ask if the war was worth it. What if the war wasn’t fought? What was this “independence”? “Independence” for whom? Was life for the average American different than life for the average Brit twenty years after the war? One hundred years? Two hundred years? Was life for the average American different after the war than it might have been had this war not been fought at all, if the colonies remained part of the empire? What of the path of Canada or Australia? Did the American Revolutionary War result in a vastly different life for the average American than it did for the average Canadian or Australian?
I don’t recall reading about a Canadian war for independence. Let’s check:
Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire.
Frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday", particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date, but the British parliament and Cabinet kept limited rights of political control over the new country that were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982, when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.[
Canada Day? What? It sounds so…passive. No war, no blood, no glory? They just, kind of, decided? No rockets’ red glare? What do they do in place of fireworks? Trade pens? They call it a “birthday”! It is so…non-violent. No war, plus they got the greatest rock band of all time out of the deal.
What about the Aussies? Hold onto your vegemite sandwich; you won’t believe this. They don’t even know when they got independence; well not exactly anyway:
We only became independent of Britain on this day [March 3] in 1986.
You might think this statement absurd. Surely Australia has been independent for a lot longer than that? Let me provide a lawyer's answer: yes and no. Yes, Australia as a nation became independent at some unknown date after 1931. By 1931 it had the power to exercise independence but chose not to do so for some time.
An unknown date? Don’t they care?
They could have done it in 1931, but didn’t? No bullets, no crossing the Murrumbidgee covered in ice, no Valley Styx, no nothing? Were they upset that they didn’t get to fight a war? Did they declare a war, and Britain forgot to attend?