More than 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War - or about 1.8 percent of the population. Today, if 1.8 percent of the population were killed in war, there would be 5.4 million graves to decorate on Decoration Day.Thanks to those who died so long ago, those who have died so soon past, and may the day come we've no need to be thankful for such sacrifice from those who are yet to be.
But that's the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screw-ups worth re-examining, but they weren't a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn't lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.
There is something not just ridiculous but unbecoming about a hyperpower 300 million strong whose elites - from the deranged former vice president down - want the outcome of a war, and the fate of a nation, to hinge on one freaky jailhouse; elites who are willing to pay any price, bear any burden, as long as it's pain-free, squeaky-clean and over in a week. The sheer silliness dishonors the memory of all those we're supposed to be remembering this Memorial Day.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Mark Steyn on Memorial Day, from 2004