Memorial Day weekend brought with it the annual waves of praise for our men and women under arms. But something's wrong here. We have become a vast majority cheering on the tiny minority we've hired to fight our wars. This has happened only in the recent past, and the result is a disconnect between the public and the decision-makers who take us into combat.
Americans are no longer the citizen soldiers in battles from Lexington to Korea. Our troops volunteer and become professional soldiers, while the rest of us are less aware of, because we are less affected by, how our leaders decide to use them. The vast consequences of these decisions -- lives cut short or altered by physical or psychological damage -- usually intrude on us only at moments like the days that just passed.
Policing is another area where we hire a few professionals to take care of our need for safety, but there is one big difference. The public has bought into the notion that crime is everyone's business. The public accepts security cameras, and 911 call centers are flooded with cellphone calls reporting serious accidents.
Americans have been able to alter the culture of who's responsible for fighting crime. We can change the culture of how decisions are made for less-than-war commitments by insisting they be put into a public forum before they are executed. The logical place for a forum is the Congress whose members are there by will of the people.
John C. Gallagher, Miller Place
Regarding "The Blue Angels zoooom again" [News, May 25], the word angel conjures an image of a peaceful spirit, a messenger from God who comforts and assists those in distress.
But if we look more closely, we learn that these angels are in reality F-18 Hornet fighter jets that otherwise would be loaded with bombs and missiles screeching through the sound barrier to deliver death and destruction, pain and sorrow upon those we do not know.
What kind of angels are these? Surely, we cannot be duped again by words that distort the truth. Yet, thousands upon thousands cheer as these angels display their deadly skills.
Sheila Haggerty, Kings Park
This past Monday, my community held its annual parade to pay tribute to the men and women who gave their lives for our country. You know, Memorial Day.
As I watched the parade go by, I observed children from a local martial arts program demonstrating the warrior poses they had learned, students from a fitness school exhibiting their training regimens, a DJ company blasting its bar mitzvah playlist. Commercialism: plenty. Patriotism: not so much.
Robert Purzak, Plainview
Bombers flew over the Atlantic, as we watched from the shore. Jet fighters dove through the sky above us. The veteran standing beside me trembled, as the ear-piercing sound of the planes overhead evoked an agonizing memory of war.
The vet was a member of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace. He and I were among the 60 peace activists who attended Saturday's Memorial Day air show at Jones Beach. Our gathering was organized by Pax Christi Long Island. Members of numerous Long Island peace and justice organizations participated, including Code Pink LI, North Country Peace Group, South Country Peace Group, LI Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives and the Suffolk Peace Network.
Our purpose in gathering was to reaffirm the true reason that we observe Memorial Day. It is a day where we pause to mourn the loss of those who died in war. It is a day to recommit ourselves to ending ongoing wars and to preventing further wars. Memorial Day is not a day for celebrating the weapons of war. The Jones Beach air show glorifies war and trivializes violence.
Robert Marcus, Setauket
How appalling that the Suffolk County Police Department has the time and inclination to try to ruin one of the few annual holidays that today's working-class people have to enjoy: Memorial Day ["Holiday DWI arrests," News, May 27].
On a day traditionally reserved for backyard barbecues and to remember our veterans, the SCPD decided to set up sting operations, causing traffic backups.
Was any consideration given to the waste of the taxpayers' hard-earned holiday time and gas money in stop-and-go traffic? I think not. It seems the SCPD only has eyes for the citations its officers could possibly hand out.
Robert Schwartz, Ronkonkoma