Honoring our war dead
History will one day portray George W. Bush as a criminal and a warmonger who desired the power of a king to decide law, declare war, curtail civil liberties, and erode the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Bush, Cheney, and their corporate constituency -- the "neocons" -- are presently protected by a timid Congress, a sympathetic Supreme Court, and by a mass media busy distracting the public with sports and entertainment rather than engaging the public with diverse viewpoints on policy issues. We are the citizens.We are the ones who should be deciding policy. We are the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Yet we are routinely left out of policy decisions.
When Bush is finally exposed for the criminal he is and his role in fabricating evidence for the Iraq war is finally exposed, what punishment should he receive? Impeachment? Prison? And what of the thousands who died or were injured by guns, bombs and IEDs? What of those who underwent torture or were placed in secret prisons for no other reason than they were picked up somewhere because their names sounded similar to a suspected terrorist? No case review. No counsel. No trial. No rights.
And how do we ensure that all of the victims of Bush's wrongful war be remembered for more than merely following orders from above? Will the dead be immortalized on a wall like Vietnam vets? Will the wounded be provided lifetime medical and mental health care, or will they -- like Vietnam vets -- be ignored to become destitute and homeless?
Even though the war is wrong, no one need die in vain if we replace life with life. We can plant memorial trees or gardens to provide life-giving oxygen through photosynthesis. Or perhaps we can do something unconventional and experimental, something unseen that may help restore the ocean reefs on a planet that has already lost 20 percent of its coral reefs, which are critical to Earth's ecosystem. The Reef Memorial Project places a memorial bronze plaque on a new concrete reef ball -- a circular-shaped form designed to simulate underwater reefs. (Also see Reef Ball Foundation.) The concrete forms are then shipped to the area where the reef is being built and are then offloaded into the water and stacked alongside other forms, thus forming a reef. Families and friends can participate in this process at any point -- from constructing the forms and polishing the plaques to holding a memorial service onboard the ship as the forms are offloaded. The hope of this project is that these concrete reef balls will become living rocks that provide food and shelter for reef plants and aquatic life. As the war spending exceeds $10 billion a month, Congress could certainly find the money to purchase a memorial reef ball for every soldier killed in Iraq.
Can there be a greater personal memorial than helping to sustain the planet that sustains us? Whether we plant a tree, a community garden, or help build a reef, we are honoring our heroes. Bush and Cheney did not honor them when they dragged them into a war based on a pack of lies, so we honor our war dead by honoring life, by ending the war, by taking our country back, and by ensuring that no president ever again achieve the power of a king. We ARE the government.