There’s a reason for this weekend — and oddly, it’s not biking or shopping

When I was a boy, I used to love watching war movies with my Dad.

I hadn’t yet developed any sense of the terrible toll that war inflicts; of the lives taken and torn, both on the battlefield and at home. I was far too young for that. All I knew was that he had fought in the second world war, both in Europe and the Pacific, and to me, he was a much of a hero as any of the brave men who battled across our TV screen.

Why he enjoyed those movies, I don’t really know. But I think he took pride in having been part of a struggle that, quite literally, saved the world — and that his sacrifice, and the greater sacrifice of those who didn’t come home, was worth the cost.

Yet it was also clear that, as much as he tried, he could never forget the things that he’d seen, and done. Or the fellow soldiers who didn’t come back home with him.

One moment in particular stands out in my mind.

We were watching a scene in which an American soldier was being tortured by the enemy. In my naïveté, I turned and asked if the Americans ever tortured anyone.

“No,” he said. “We wouldn’t do that. We were the good guys.”

Maybe that’s why I get so upset when I hear Dick Cheney defend the torture of terror suspects. It feels like a betrayal of everything this country has stood for, and everything my father and hundreds of thousands of his fellow men and women fought for.

This weekend, we celebrate Memorial Day.

Most Americans will spend it at the beach or outdoor barbeques; at the mall or any of the countless sales that encourage us to mark the occasion by going further into debt. Meanwhile, those of us in the two-wheeled set are likely to take advantage of the three-day weekend and mark the unofficial start of summer with the year’s first big ride.

All I ask is that you take just a moment this weekend to remember those who gave their lives for this country, as well as those who, like my father, surrendered too much their lives to battles they could never forget.

And don’t forget those who are serving their country as we speak — and the sacrifices their loved ones make worrying about, and living without, them.

We’ll have plenty of time to talk about biking next week.

 

Gary provides an insightful analysis of the failure of Class III bike routes. Seriously, read it. In the comments, Scott directs readers to this criticism of the LAB’s Bike Friendly Cities program. Streetsblog provides insight into the Hummer incident by interviewing the victim, Andres Tena. The new Secretary of Transportation notes that biking is healthy when you do it safely, while OHS reminds drivers that we share the road, too. The Tucson Bike Lawyer asks why the Pima County sheriff is entrapping cyclists, and the Safe Passing Bill moves forward in Texas. San Francisco moves forward with a plan to phase out cars and phase in bikes on Market Street, while a Toronto writer notes that bikes are good for business. And finally, the Brooklyn Eagle notes that sharing the road has never come easy.

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