The militarization of ‘Independence Day’

5 Jul

After a weekend filled with the sound of fireworks that made my neighborhood sound like a small war zone, there was finally some peace and quiet to reflect on what “Independence Day” was originally a celebration of: the American colonists’ secession from the British Empire. Now it has morphed into an ugly and nauseating worship of the American State and its wars; the militarization of the 4th of July.

As Marines dragged 50-100 pound backpacks through the 100-degree Afghanistan sun this Saturday, Americans were constantly showered with slogans, images and celebrations of Presidents who left the Atlantic in ashes, interned 100,000 Japanese-Americans, burned Southern cities to the ground, wiped out Serbs from 20,000 feet, and other lovely things Presidents do “to protect our freedom.” The 4th of July is the U.S. war machine’s favorite holiday since it gets to witness millions of Americans wave government flags, parade down the street, and sing war-worshipping songs in church, for “freedom” of course. If you ask me, no German, Japanese, Vietnamese, Iraqi, Afghan, Panamanian, Libyan, Somalian, Cuban, or Iranian ever took away any of my rights, while the U.S. government continuously strips us of our constitutional liberties every time it threatens or bombs a foreign “enemy.”

Independence Day is now just another holiday for the Pentagram Pentagon to remind Americans of the glories of war, of America’s fights against “tyranny,” “terrorism” or “commies,” and how grateful we should be for it. The 4th of July is the worst of the military-worship holidays, but one can take a look at a calendar and find nearly one holiday a month celebrating the warfare state. Independence Day, Memorial Day in May, Veterans Day in November, Labor Day in September, and Presidents Day in January, where we all hear some one tell us to “remember the soldiers who died so you could be free.” Even Thanksgiving is used to glorify the American Empire, where we again thank the soldiers and put nice little ribbons on the back of our cars.

American soldiers are the casualties of this constant celebration of the death and destruction of war, as they are sent to places halfway across the world and told to wage war on weak, defenseless, and starving countries. The generals get promoted, the defense contractors line their wallets as well as the wallets of too many Congressmen, and the soldiers come home dead, maimed, suicidal and neglected. Then, because of these wars, Presidents say that they can ignore the Constitution and the Bill Rights; “for our freedom” of course.

Independence day has lost nearly all of its original meaning to the corrupting spell of the glorification of the State and its wars of aggression overseas. When I see government flags draping government parking meters on government streets and those annoying “patriotic” stickers, I wonder what George Washington or Thomas Jefferson would have done. I think they would’ve gladly put on Redcoats and suppressed the rebellion so that they didn’t have to see an America that shook off the chains of an empire use those same bloody chains on the rest of the globe.

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