Memorial Day is one of several holidays for which I find a growing antipathy as the years go by (though it should be said I am always happy to have a reason to take a day off.) It isn't that I don't think we ought to take a moment to reflect on sacrifices made by the men and women of the armed services (more on this in a moment), but rather that it seems to me the preferred mode of observance is to complain about how everyone else isn't observing it properly.
(See also: Martin Luther King Day, and in certain circles, Christmas.)
Perhaps I would be more inclined to spend time memorializing our fallen soldiers if I didn't think that so many of them died doing nothing whatsoever for the cause of "my freedom." The soldiers of the American Revolution did that, certainly. The Civil War, arguably. It is difficult to imagine the world in which America did not enter WWII as one in which any of us would want to live, though it is equally difficult to exclude the possibility that WWII might have never happened were it not for the outcome of its utterly pointless predecessor a few decades earlier.
I'll even grant the necessity of a military response following 9/11. At least to the extent that the public narrative of that attack is true*, I think the ultimatum made to the Taliban and its consequences for not having been met were entirely justified.
But I'm damned if I know what we're supposed to be doing there, now.
No one wants to say to the spouses, parents, children, siblings, and friends of the dead that they died for nothing. Or worse still, that they died for a cynical, political purpose, or in the service of a stubborn and foolish ideal about the world that flies in the face of all available evidence.
Are the dead really honored by beautiful lies? When we seek comfort in telling ourselves that there is a greater purpose served by the pointless and avoidable carnage to which we routinely subject the youth of this country, are we really doing them any favors? Or are we just making it possible for the same mistakes to be repeated, generation after generation?
I don't know. Really, I don't.
*No, I'm not a "truther", I'm just referring specifically to involvement of terrorists working from a base in Afghanistan with the support of the Taliban government...and I only feel the need to qualify this because of all the other things we were told in that decade that turned out to be, generously, "mistaken".