As opposed to say Christmas decorations, Memorial Day decorations have a much smaller window in which to pop up around us. The flags outside the courthouse seem to have sprung out of the ground like slender red, white and blue flowers. I say seemed but we all know volunteers put them there. In fact, this was the first year I was actually there -- documenting it in my official capacity of course.
And the words of one volunteer stuck with me.
"There are those that write about this in their ads, and there are those that come out and help," he said.
I take that to mean, in not so many words, there are those who say they care and there are those who show they care about the price paid by men and women for peace not-yet-realized. And here we are, living just a month after the powers that be in both North Korea and South Korea began working to officially end the Korean War, some 65 years and countless deaths after it began. We find ourselves with a president who was poised to hopefully negotiate some modicum of peace with North Korea after decades of the country's dynastic despots throwing veiled and not-so veiled threats of war at countries near and far, not to mention the starving of its own people and public executions. What a time to be alive. What a time to end it.
End it did.
The president and negotiator in chief pulled the plug on the planned summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un over what he described as "tremendous anger and open hostility" on North Korea's part.
Now, that didn't make much sense to me. I would like to think our president is at least smart enough not to cancel peace talks because of a lack of peace. So I arrived at my next thought.
Perhaps it's a tactic.
In fact, as I understand it, there's a whole section in "The Art of the Deal," the book written by/for our president, that deals with when to walk away from the table. And maybe it will work. Now both sides are saying they still would like to meet, but some analysts are saying that doesn't mean the U.S. will necessarily be able to return to the table from a position of strength.
That might seem odd for a country being led by a man who (possibly) wrote the book on negotiations, but putting your tactics out there in print beforehand can have that effect. Just recall the George C. Scott film "Patton." The title character leads his forces against the Nazi General Erwin Rommel, who authored (or had a ghostwriter, I don't know) a book on deceptive battlefield tactics. Patton stands ready to counter and, when Rommel begins to spring his trap, Patton says...well, I can't put the first part of the quote in print, but he exclaims, "I read your book!"
He was prepared.
Maybe Kim was as well. Some sources say North Korea has already taken steps to deaden the impact of Trump's campaign of economic pressure, which the president said will resume as another summit is discussed. More over, North and South Korea met Saturday to discuss making the summit with the U.S. happen. Notice how every side said they wanted to meet, but only two out of three were there.
As much as some Americans may have elected our president because of his craftiness in deal-making, we may need a more straight-forward approach. We may need to stop advertising how much we're seeking peace in the Korean Peninsula and actually go out there with the true intention to help. I'm not saying talks with North Korea will be successful. Its government doesn't have a reputation for being honest with the rest of the world, but that's perhaps why I feel like there is such a need for honest negotiation. I'm not convinced peace can be achieved if the countries of the world are simply wrapping their same old demands in the shiny foil of peace.
And while we here at home can debate the border wall, or healthcare, or tax cuts or any number of subjects, I see no reason why the pursuit of peace abroad should be opposed. Ultimately, it may not be what our 45th president is remembered for, just like President Nixon isn't remembered for Chinese trade negotiations and President Clinton isn't remembered for signing the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, but the ripple effect of a Korean peace would certainly spread across the oceans of the globe and potentially benefit all of humanity.
And that should be our goal, because our country should be more than advertisers of peace.