Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of Summer, a time for businesses to hold sales and a time for family barbecue’s. It has also lost a lot of meaning in recent years, as people say “Memorial Day is a time to remember our men & women in uniform.” Memorial Day was first celebrated as “Decoration Day” when friends and family would decorate the graves of soldiers killed during the American Civil War. In 1971, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday and became a holiday to remember all victims of war.
Most people only think of soldiers, their families and civilian casualties as being “victims of war.” And most people think only of war as a military campaign using weapons. However, there are many more victims of war.
Millions of non-violent men and women are being held captive by federal, State and municipal governments as victims of the War on Drugs. Aside from the 1/2 million inmates across the country at any given time and the 1.7 million people arrested for drug offenses (over 80% for simple possession), there are many more victims of the drug war. Victims such as 28 years old Rev. Jonathan Ayers who was killed by undercover officers in September, 2009 after meeting with a member of his congregation who happened to be under surveillance by drug cops; and seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones who was killed in 2010 during a police raid at her home. Many other victims of the drug war have been killed by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because the police performed a “no knock raid” on the wrong house and the home owners were attempting to defend themselves from would be intruders.
There are millions of families that are “trapped” in housing developments and neighborhoods they have little or no way to escape as prisoners of the War on Poverty. The War on Poverty has created a catch-22, or what Dr. Mary Ruwart calls “the poverty trap” – people can’t find jobs due to living in a poor neighborhood, and can’t leave the poor neighborhood because they have no job. The Urban Institute writes, “Place reinforces poverty. High-poverty neighborhoods can weigh down families trying to earn a living and raise kids. High crime, low-performing schools, and scarce job opportunities often plague poor communities—undermining families’ struggles to improve their lives.” Is it any wonder that people in these bad neighborhoods turn to black-market activities? Mary Ruwart writes, “Many individuals are capable of creating wealth but are excluded from the job market by minimum wage and licensing laws. Much poverty can be alleviated by allowing people to create wealth at whatever level they can and ‘work their way up.’”
In addition to the War on Drugs and War on Poverty countless men and women that are being watched, tracked and databased for being a “potential threat” as part of the War on Terror according to one or more government agencies, for such things as: displaying certain bumper stickers, opposing the IRS & Federal Reserve, or simply believing that the government isn’t wonderful. We have lost our “right” to travel, our “right” to not be subjected to warrantless searches, and our “right” to live without government interference in our daily lives.
This Memorial Day, remember not only the men, women & children that have been killed during war; I ask that you also remember the other victims of the governments wars on freedom.