Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. which commemorates those whose lives have been taken on the battlefield. It has become a harbinger of summer, although the season doesn’t officially begin until the solstice on June 21st at 12:38pm. Cookouts, parties and parades are part and parcel of the extension of the weekend. People sometimes use the greeting of Happy Memorial Day, which pushes buttons, since there really is nothing happy about war and the toll it extracts on many generations of families. My father was a veteran of the Korean War and WWII and loved watching military shows like Combat, McHales’ Navy, Hogan’s Hero’s and my favorite M*A*S*H. Three out of the four injected humor into a deadly serious subject. The final episode of M*A*S*H on February 28, 1983 was the most watched and highest rated episode of a television show of all time with 125 million viewers. I was glad to be one of them. What I particularly enjoyed about the series was the ways in which it managed to bring heart and soul to a dismal environment that the characters found themselves in. With ironic laughter and a clear anti-war message, it got itself heard.
I consider myself a peacemonger who knows that there are ways to break through the blocks that have people going head to head at each other, rather than heart to heart for/with each other. There are those who will be reading this who may believe that war will always exist and that it is justified. I know that my father would have been one of them. That was one of the few subjects about which we disagreed; tree hugging hippie that his daughter turned out to be. He didn’t glorify war, but thought that there were some things worth fighting for. He had been a Golden Gloves boxer in the Navy and had learned to be a tough guy while growing up in South Philadelphia. He did, however, have the heart of a marshmallow, who could cry easily and embraced family, friends and strangers alike. I guess I would call him a peaceful warrior. Perhaps I would call myself that too, since I have causes for which I take stands, but with my words and not weapons or fists.
I think of the line from Star Wars that is uttered by Yoda when he and Luke Skywalker meet for the first time when Luke tells this little green sage that he is looking for a great warrior. Yoda responds “Wars not make one great.”
It is in that spirit, that I offer healing to the hearts of those whose loved ones have died as a result of war.