There are all sorts of rituals I participate in on this weekend: parade, barbeques, packing away the winter clothes, getting the yard ready for summer.
But those are colloquial. I know Memorial Day is supposed to honor those who have lost their lives in war, to remember them. Somehow I have a difficult time making meaning from that.
I wonder why. Maybe I am not a good patriot? Maybe I don’t properly appreciate my freedoms? Maybe I don’t understand the horrors of battle and war?
It’s true I am a pacifist, even though I have friends and loved ones who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I respect their work and I honor their commitment to nation.
Maybe I just don’t see the connection between our own security, and invasion of nations overseas? Even if intelligent people explain it to me, I still return to my pacifist beliefs: war is wrong.
Every time I say that, someone trots out Hitler. Hello again Hitler. Nice to see you again. You were an man who instigated atrocities against millions of people. All the hindsight in the world tells me you needed to be stopped. Of course, how many others commit genocides that we just ignore? How often do we use history as a way of explaining something conveniently?
My mind and heart contend, still (against all logic): War is wrong.
Today is Sunday. It’s not yet Memorial Day.
Tomorrow I’ll walk in the parade and say thank you to the women and men who died representing the country I love. I will say thank you for following the call of duty and for the price they paid so dear.
The majority voted. The men were elected. The leaders convened. Debates ensued. Some said no. Enough said yes. We went to war. You died. After, we all called it “protecting freedom” and “peacekeeping” so that it wouldn’t hurt so much.
Memorial Day, I walk in thanks. All the other days, I think I shall stay still for peace.