Memorial Day

From Ground Zero, where — though in hopefully decreasing numbers — hordes of motorcycle-loving yobs descend every year hijacking the reverence due people who have died because old men wanted wars.

Just asking of whatever power might exist in the universe. Give the world’s leaders the wisdom to act so that no one ever has to see their son or daughter come home in a box.

You don’t think it’s likely? Yeah. Me neither. But let’s dream.



I work most “holiday weekends,” because it’s a good way to keep my head down, especially this one.

For anyone who’s forgotten or isn’t a US resident, Memorial Day was instituted to honor the dead of the American Civil War. Now, especially since the passage of the Long Weekends and Retail Sales Event Act, whereby all holidays are observed on the nearest adjacent Monday to facilitate commerce and fucking off, it seems to honor the first barbecue of the summer.

Here in DC we get the added thrill of seventy jillion motorcyclists saying they’re here because of the Vietnam war. They zip up and down the local roads all weekend, spewing fried hydrocarbons. I guess this makes somebody feel better. I just keep my head down till they go the hell home.

Behind me — buffered a little, mercifully, by the jigsaw corners of adjacent lots — there’s a household of probably Central Americans, judging by their taste (if you can call it that) in music (if you can call it that) who crank up their goddam bass boosters one Saturday every May, Memorial Day for preference, occasionally larding the boom-boom with the amplified voice of someone pretending to be an emcee. I guess they find this fun.

We’re in the process of creating a whole new generation of shattered war veterans over in the mid-East, most of whom are apt to like loud noise even less than I do, so I feel less apologetic than ever about loathing all this racket and shallow merriment. I knew a guy who flew Evac in Vietnam, who doesn’t talk about it, and a guy who was shot out of a Huey and left with a knee that looks like nothing on Earth and spends his days writing letters to complain about every helicopter flight he can hear from his townhouse, and now and then, because they fight under my flag, I read e-mailed combat diaries and blogs from guys who are stuck in Afghanistan or Baghdad. Maybe it’s just me, but after contemplating these matters, my first instinct isn’t to get down and boogie.

I guess I’m an old grouch. Just call me when it’s over.