by Mia McKenzie
It’s Memorial Day. It’s the official day of honoring Americans who have died in all wars. Officially, these wars include the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, etc. You know, official wars. I have complicated feelings about all of those wars, and complicated feelings about this holiday. But that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about less official wars, and the people who have died in them.
It’s about Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black boy who was gunned down by a man who stalked him because he looked “suspicious.”
It’s about Raul and Brisenia Flores, a father and young daughter who were murdered by an anti-immigrant vigilante group in May of 2009.
It’s about Emmit Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was murdered in 1955 for supposedly whistling at a white woman.
It’s about Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old girl who was murdered in 2003 after telling a man she was gay.
It’s about Mohammed Al Hadi, a store clerk who was murdered in January 2009 by an unknown assailant with “some vendetta.”
It’s about Du Doan, a 62 year-old Vietnamese man, who was pushed by a skinhead off a fishing pier into the icy waters of Lake Michigan, where he drowned, in 2007.
It’s about Brandi Martell, a black transwoman who was murdered in Oakland at the end of April this year.
This post is about all of them and so, so many more.
It’s about all of the people who have died in poverty in this country.
The people without access to health care who have died unnecessarily early deaths.
The homeless people who have frozen to death in the streets on winter nights.
The people who die from the heat or are murdered in the desert while trying to cross the border.
The war they all died in is the war on black and brown people that has been going strong in this land since 1492. It is this war on the poor, this war on women, this war on queer and trans* people.
Today, I am thinking about them, all of them, the named and unnamed, the known and unknown. Today, with the smell of warming-up charcoal in my nose and backyard plans in my calendar, I am thinking about this war on our bodies and minds and souls that never, ever ends. I am mourning the loss of so many soldiers in these wars.
Oh, friends. There is so much building still to do, so much work, so much fighting. And so much loving. Because without the loving, none of the rest of it even matters.
So, today, Memorial Day, in honor of all who have fallen in these wars, I am re-committing myself to love. Love for my people, for the people who stand beside me, for the people I am in this thing with. Even the ones who don’t know yet that we are in this thing together.
Remember that scene in Forrest Gump where Bubba and Forrest are in Vietnam, in the rain, in the trenches, and they sit with their backs against each other all night so they won’t have to sleep with their heads in the mud?
Here is my back, friends, if any of y’all need somewhere to lean. So none of us have to sleep with our heads in the mud.
Happy Memorial Day.