May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

I used to have mixed feelings about Memorial Day, our day to remember our war dead and veterans here in these United States. It used to bother me how it sometimes seemed like a way to ignore the obvious injustice of war itself by a mystifying use of grief. I was concerned that such a celebration was an under-handed way to manipulate emotions toward having us ignore the fundamental problem of war--kind of like the slogan, "I support the troops."

But after my brief time working for the Veterans Administration as chaplain in one of their psychiatric units, I've changed my mind. I had always known it in my head, but this experience taught me in my heart of the immense un-meaning of war. And it's an un-meaning that travels into the families and friends and communities of those who suffer through it.

Particular wars come and go, but the suffering they cause lives on in the hearts of persons. And whether they survive or not, the same suffering gets into their families and communities. It creates permanent underclasses of people who will never be o.k. again.

For this reason, I believe that every person of conscience bears the responsibility of bringing meaning, truth, human contact and compassion to the victims of war. That's why I think it is a good thing to have a holiday dedicated to "re-membering" those who have died and those who have lived through the wars of the powers of this world.

3 comments:

Bill said...

I agree with everything you say and admire the way in which you have worded it. Wars come and wars go and are largely forgotten about, except for a few comments in a history book. Forgotten about as last weeks news except for those directly involved. Here the suffer is endless.
I live in Canada and have never been directly affected by war, and try as I might I know I can never really appreciate or understand the horrors of those directly involved.
My thoughts and prayers are with all that know that horror.
Bill

Charles of New Haven said...

Thanks Bill. It's good to know that folks all over are praying.

A proud U.S. Air Force Veteran said...

Serving in the military doesn't make one a war monger or supporter of war. Someone must be present to defend against injustice. Unfortunately, because of sin in the hearts of men, war will always be a human reality; there will always be the need to defend one's self, one's nation, and/or the helpless against injustice.