On Memorial Day we remember and
honor those men and women who have fought for their country and paid with their
lives in doing so. There are many
kinds of patriotism, some worthy, some unworthy, but laying your life on the
line in defense of your country, your community, your family and friends, ranks high among the worthy. Democrat, Republican, Independent, or
something else, it does not matter. The same hold for terms like liberal and
conservative, Pagan or Jewish or Christian or nonbeliever. For most people those labels reflect
where they grew up, who they grew up with, and what they happened to learn far
more than it reflects on their character.
These distinctions are important in some contexts. They are not
important in this one. On Memorial Day all Americans with open hearts can embrace them all.
What of the claim that many died to
no good end because many wars were manufactured by depraved politicians for
their own ends? True enough all
too often, and irrelevant when on Monday we honor the motives and remember the fates of those who
paid with their lives for devotion to their country. I believe we who denounced those politicians should focus on the men and women who went abroad believing it their duty to do
so, who did the best they knew how to defend their homeland to the best of
their understanding, and who died.
If a particular war was unworthy that does not detract from their
sacrifice. They would have been
equally devoted to duty, equally willing to risk and pay the ultimate price,
had their cause been as good as they thought it was. They did the best they knew.
Necessary wars unnecessary wars, on
Monday it doesn’t matter. All those
who died were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers,
friends and lovers. This, along
with their sacrifice, is what we need to remember. The
Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun is a beautiful
British song that gets this across poignantly. We are diminished by their loss and enriched by their
gifts to us.
I will light a candle on my altar
and meditate on these things this Monday.