Memorial Day: Remembering the Fallen
An Animal Rights Article from


Ruth Eisenbud
May 2011

" ... the young narrator stops in front of a sausage shop and stares at the sausages hanging in the window. He addresses them silently: "You were once alive, you suffered, but you're beyond your sorrows now. There's no trace of your writhing or suffering anywhere. Is there a memorial tablet somewhere in the cosmos on which it is written that a cow named Kvyatule allowed herself to be milked for eleven years? Then in the twelfth year, when her udder had shrunk, she was led to a slaughterhouse, where a blessing was recited over her and her throat was cut." from The Certificate, Isaac Bashevis Singer

Americans celebrate Memorial Day to remember those who lost their lives during battle. The commemoration of such tragic loss, is ironically celebrated with the slaughter of harmless animals, killed for millions of barbecues around the nation. A somber occasion, marked by the slaughter of the innocent, though inappropriate, is a natural outcome of religious doctrine of the Judeo-Christian tradition which sanctifies the slaughter and exploitation of animals for human benefit:

Genesis 9:1-3: "God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything."

This is a dead pile of calves behind a veal farm.

A more peaceful and humane religious doctrine would likely have resulted in less loss of human life, as there is a documented link between animal abuse and human on human violence, such as war. Religions which practice ahimsa, non-violence to ALL living beings have a significantly greater incidence of peace. The Jain religion of India, based on the principle of ahimsa, has never engaged in religious warfare, any other warfare, inquisitions, crusades, holocausts, jihads, intifadas and the marginalization of it neighbors. The wisdom of ahimsa was also understood by Isaac Bashevis Singer, as he stated:

I think, as a rule, a vegetarian is not a murderer, he is not a criminal. I believe that a man who becomes a vegetarian because he has compassion with animals is not going to kill people or be cruel to people. When one becomes a vegetarian it purifies the soul.

Every year in the USA 56 billion living, fully sentient beings are slaughtered for human benefit and enjoyment. These are truly the fallen, as they are completely innocent of any wrong doing. As we remember the humans who have fallen, let us also honor the lives of all the animals who have fallen prey to the sanctified violence of the semitic religions. The greatest tribute to these animals would be the renunciation of dominion as a legitimate view of animals. Dominion must be replaced with the benevolent principle of ahimsa:

"For there is nothing inaccessible for death. All beings are fond of life, hate pain, like pleasure, shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life is dear." Jain Acharanga Sutra.

Return to Animal Rights Articles