We have set aside this weekend (or rather, this Monday) as Memorial Day, a day to remember. But I sometimes wonder what it is that we are to be remembering.
Are we to remember all those who have died in all the wars that we have engaged over the past 250 years or so? If so, we are not doing a good job of it, for we keeping sending soldiers off to war.
Do we think that war is easier if it is made to look and feel like some sort of video game? Have we not noticed that people still die in a war, no matter if it is by guns, bombs, or rockets or if we are somewhere far away watching on a T. V. monitor.
I am one of the lucky ones. My grandfather served in World War I but he died at home during peace time. My father served in World War II but he also died at home during peace time. I know where their graves are and I know that a flag flies over their grave today. My family has the flags that a greatful government gave in honor of the service.
But how many families don’t have that sort of luck. How many families lost their fathers, their mothers, their sisters, their brothers, their sons, their daughters in lands far away? How many more must die before we truly realize that to honor the dead of past wars, we must not engage in wars again?
How many soldiers and sailors have come home to an indifferent nation, a nation that gladly sends them off to war but ignores them when they come home, some with physical injuries, many with internal injuries that no one can see? Why is that we are willing to pay millions for an unmanned drone but will cut veterans’ benefits because the budget is too big?
What are we doing this Memorial Day that will insure the peace? We must honor the dead because if we don’t, their deaths will be meaningless. But to truly honor their service, we must make sure that there are no more wars.
As long as we engage in acts of violence, any words said to honor those who have died will have no meaning. When we began to realize that war cannot solve the problems that create wars in the first place, then we will have taken the first step. Those who will have died in the past have not died in vain but it will be very difficult to think that what they fought for had any meaning if all we do is go off to war.
And one day we will look around and all we shall see are fields and fields of the youth of this country, killed in a war that no one understood and began for reasons that no once could remember. And with the youth of this country gone, then those who remain will understand too late that to honor the dead is to protect the living.