28 May 2007

Monday's mp3: When Elephants Fight...

It's Memorial Day here in the USA, a day that commemorates those who have died in military service for their country. Often on this day I'm up at the Northwest Folklife Festival, but today instead I went to the State Capitol in Olympia, where I heard the governor speak, met a few veterans, and learned a few things.

This photo is from Washington State's Vietnam Memorial Wall, a central gathering place for vets. The WWII memorial was more quiet, just a few people and flowers around. Wonder it that's simply because so few veterans are still alive?

The multiculturalism of the gathering surprised me a bit. Many Vietnamese veterans were in attendance. I presume that they were the ones on "our" side, but it was still heartening to see this, especially after the overtly white, Christian presentation by a local church at the official ceremony inside the capitol rotunda.

I learned from one vet about the many service dogs who were in Vietnam. I never knew, but they served as watch dogs, explosives detectors, and tunnel explorers. He said that at the end of the war, to the anguish of the dogs' handlers, the Army euthanized the dogs instead of sending them back to the US.

War is a tool that is pulled out too readily, and without enough consideration of long-term effects. It's a short-term solution at best, and while that's sometimes necessary, it seldom solves problems. When asked the best thing we could do for those currently serving in the military, a member of the American Legion Honor Guard was silent for a moment, then said simply "Bring them home."

As the Refugee All Stars of Sierra Leone say in this song, "When two elephants are fighting, the grass dem' a-suffer."

[mp3] Refugee All Stars: Weapon Conflict
from the album Living Like a Refugee

The Refugee All Stars are currently on tour, with dates across the USA (Seattle on June 19) and some in Europe. See Tour Dates.


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