Rural town pastors are often invited to speak at Memorial Day services. I recall vividly my first such invite. I wanted to be responsible to the invite. Should I go with oft used phrases such as the “fallen did not die in vain?” Should I condemn our nation’s advsisaries and credit the fallen for protecting us from them? Should I say the fallen were sacrificed for a “greater cause”? One colleague even suggested that I start with a prayer that asked God to help us yearn for a time when war would be so far removed from humanity’s conscious that there would no reason to gather at a somber, painful moment to honor the fallen.
Then and in the years following, I found the answer in the title we give that day. It is a moment to remember and nothing more. Remember the lives never lived, the relationships never created, the futures never experienced. In the remembering we refuse to erase the memories of someone’s loved one and the reason they were sacrificed. It is for the weeks between Memorial Day services that we endeavor to remember the excuses governments use to send our young men and women to war. We must reveal the lies, the misinformation, the political and economic posturing which takes us to war.
Unfortunately, we are on the verge of repeating the road always taken. Hawkish elements want regime change in Iran and North Korea. Unverified accusations like John R Bolton’s, “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” or “There’s no reason for them to do it unless it is to reduce the breakout time to nuclear weapons.”
We are on the verge of another Weapons of Mass Destruction moment. A moment when we sacrifice our young men and women for manufactured causes.
A 60’s protest song—"Blowing in the Wind”—says it best: Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago? Where have all the flowers gone? Gone to young girls, everyone. When will they ever learn? Will they ever learn? Following verses pass the young girls to young men, young men to soldiering, young soldiers to graveyards, graveyards to flowers. In today’s world both young men and women go to soldiering. Death is not gender selective in war.
I wish I had had the courage to face the blinding patriotic fervor present then and asked those gathered to sing that song with me. We need to realize that it is patriotic to call out those who continue to relive the past. We must resist those who continue to ask our young men and women to sacrifice their lives for some political or economic agendas. We must push back on the manufactured excuses which have been refuted by our allies on the ground. We can and we must. When will we ever end? RESIST.