(Photo © by Bonnie Schupp)
And here's another perspecitve that goes beyond the usual Memorial Day discussion. Darrel Nash is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis:
I have paid more attention to Memorial Day this year than for quite a few years When I was growing up, all of my family went to the cemetery to watch the American Legion put on a program honoring those that have died in wars.
Fred’s talk [Fred Muir] and Russ’s [Russ Savage] sermon [Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis] got me to thinking about this day more. Then last night we watched the Memorial Day commemoration on the National Mall.
It is most appropriate and important that we honor those that have died in battle and those that are injured and their families sometimes for years, even generations. It was very gratifying to see a large part of the Mall event devoted to the sacrifices of those that have been in harm’s way and were not killed, yet carry the physical, mental, and emotional scars. It recognized the extreme sacrifices of their families whose entire lives are now devoted to the injured one. In Russ’s sermon, he told of the diary his father kept in the midst of battle in
Yes, we should honor those who have sacrificed, yet also recognize that wars at their roots are caused by failures--sins if you will. Failures of politicians. These failures include greed, self-aggrandizement, pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, retribution, unwillingness to accept that there are other valid points of view. And one more. Some politicians like war. Individuals don’t start wars. Those in power at the national level, and now some non-state politicians start wars. A person can drive down the highway with a bumper sticker saying “I love war,” but that is not what starts wars.
Those in power start wars, then they call on those without power to fight them. In order to get citizens to fight, the war must be cast in terms—for the U.S.-- of defending our freedom, protecting those people back home, children, women, elders, etc.
Even public television this week, in honoring the war dead, casts the honoring in terms of the dead of all wars protecting our freedom—protecting America.
This line puts all wars on the same basis, all are justified. Yet, it is hard to say which wars, if indeed any could be said to have the purpose of protecting our freedom. Not Iraq, not the Gulf War, not Viet Nam, not Korea—it was supposed to be to get North Korea back north of the 38th parallel, not World War I, not any of the incursions we made into Mexico—these were to get some territory for the US, not wars with the North American Indians, these were to get some land for non-Indians. So what do we say about these military cemeteries? We need to honor the sacrifices without sending the message that those that perpetrated the wars always did so to protect American freedom.
I propose a Memorial Day for politicians who are peace-makers. Persons that come to mind right away are, Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, and Jimmy Carter. (I know, they are still alive, so don’t call it “Memorial”) Their impact is beyond imagining. How many people have not been killed, how many families have not lost husbands, wives, partners, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, best friends?
How many politicians in other countries, Israel, Palestine, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Burma, Iraq, South Africa……. should be honored as peace-makers?
These should be our political models. Those that intercept the idea that the way ahead is not war and violence, but talking and sharing and working toward solutions that all sides can accept. War begets war. Peace with justice is sustaining.
(Thank you Darrell for reminding us.)