My apologies. This post was written on Memorial Day, but I was unwell and not able to get my tablet to a wifi area until today. Hope you all had a good, thoughtful and thankful day.
Welcome to Memorial Day, a day of picnicking and fun, frolicking in the beautiful spring weather. But is that what this holiday is all about?
I pray that you all spent at least a short period of time contemplating those who gave their very lives to give you the freedom to enjoy this day. I find it interesting that even those who oppose war, think that it’s wrong and so very horrific (and it is, don’t get me wrong), don’t seem to care that if these fine young men and women had not been willing to sacrifice for us all, we would not be in a position to enjoy the day like this.
In the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus tells us that both a priest and a Levite pass by a man seriously injured by robbers and left laying in the road. It is the Samaritan, the one thought to be less than the Jews because they were of mixed heritage, who cared for the man, tended his wounds and paid for a place for him to rest and recuperate. He is one who took care of his neighbor, his fellow human being. I don’t care about your politics, how you may feel about our government, the individuals in office, their motives for what they do, whether what they do is legal or illegal, when it comes down to it, the United States cares for neighbors all over the world.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if Hitler had won World War II? I can’t. It hurts my brain to even try. Did we delay until it got personal? Perhaps. Did the entire world ignore the plight of the Jews in the Nazi death camps? Yeah, pretty much. I don’t know for sure, but I believe it’s against the nature of most to believe that such horrible things can really be conceived of and perpetrated upon fellow human beings. We don’t want to think the worst of our brothers and sisters until the truth of it comes up and smacks us upside the head. And whether you agree or not, it is against this general backdrop that the U.S. gets involved in conflicts around the world. As a country we are pretty much in a damned if we do and damned if we don’t situation. If we get involved, we’re meddling, and if we don’t, we are allowing innocent people to be persecuted, sometimes to the point of near extinction.
So, this forms the base of my weekend of mixed emotions. Add to it the military tradition of my family, a relative in every war fought by the U.S., even to the point of wars that were before the U.S. existed, (yes, back tot the French-Indian war), the nearer history of Grand-Uncle Everette who was a POW in Burma during WW II, my brother who passed away 7 years ago due to complications that stemmed from a disease attributed to Agent Orange, inflicted in Vietnam, the upcoming retirement of my nephew from 20+ years of service to the United States Marine Corps, and a wonderful time of fellowship with a newly formed small group from my church at Cantingy, a wonderful place of recreation and education at the First Division Museum. Oh, and yesterday would have been my parents 65th wedding anniversary were they still alive.
I have a tough time every year on Memorial Day weekend. I’ve always considered myself a war mongering peacenik. I tried, multiple times, to join the military, only to be rejected due to hearing loss. Finally, I simply minored in Military Science when I went to college. I got some of the training, but did not get to serve. And yet, there is a part of me, grown stronger since I came to know and love Jesus, that does not understand how we can allow ourselves to be driven to kill for the sake of land, or gold, or oil. Part of me says that it’s okay in order to save another, as Jesus did, or to liberate the Nazi death camps. And yet, God says, “Thou shalt not kill,” and that we should turn the other cheek, or go two miles when only one is demanded of us. Men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr died adhering to their non-violent ways. So how do we justify a nearly non-stop history of war? And my family’s been involved in them all.
So this is my weekend of pride in a family history that has protected this country’s freedom from the very beginning, thankfulness for those fought and died to keep me free, and massive confusion, wondering if it’s right to be proud. (I know it’s right to be thankful. THAT is not an issue!!)
Thank you to all who fought for my freedom and the freedom of so many others around the world. Thank you especially to those who paid the supreme price. You are not forgotten.