I have very strong feelings about war and basically – I’m strongly anti-war. While the violence that occurs during war is temporary and for a “good cause” (if there even is one), the evil the violence leaves behind is inevitably permanent . . . that being said, I realize war is unfortunately inescapable.
My personal feelings on such matters of violence can easily be summed up with this Buddhist sentiment: Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world; it is appeased by love. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful place if all the hearts of the world were appeased by love? I know. I’m a dreamer, bite me.
Anyhow, I’ve been reading blogs about what Memorial Day means to each of us all morning, and I thought I’d post my own . . . then, after reading my brother-in-law’s post, I decided I couldn’t say it better than him, so with my sentiment – here are Doug Masson’s thoughts on Memorial Day:
Memorial Day is a day to honor the dead who have died in military service to our country. Gifts impose duties upon the recipient. In fact, in some cultures, you could do great offense by giving a gift that exceeded the recipient’s ability to reciprocate. I’m not sure how you adequately respond to a gift of this magnitude. But, I have some ideas.
First, simply honor the sacrifice. As I tell my kids, never underestimate the power of “thank you.”
Second, the military in our country serves the civilian political authority. This gives us an opportunity and a civic duty. Keep informed and object to the extent you’re able when the civilian authority proposes to use the military in ways that aren’t necessary to “defend our freedom,” as they like to say. If the policy in question isn’t worth killing and dying for, possibly the military shouldn’t be involved.
Third, (and to be honest, I’m not sure there is any help for this), it would be nice if we could stop our politicians from using the trappings of patriotism and military service for partisan advantage. Use of flags, love of country, and our military can mean short term gain for the politician who is able to appropriate the “good will” associated with these things. But, the long-term effect is for these symbols to become tainted by association with the partisan using them. For example when I see a flag and hear the word “freedom,” I start thinking of the disastrous policies of George W. Bush who liked to wrap himself in such things. He’s hardly the only one, but his branding efforts seemed especially vigorous.
That’s short term stuff. We need to remember the patriots who died in the Revolution to found the country; the soldiers who fought the British invasion in 1812; the Union soldiers who preserved the Union against treason in defense of slavery; and the Greatest Generation who fought the evil of the Nazis and the aggression of the Empire of Japan. But our reverence needs to be tempered by the realization that soldiers’ lives have also been spent on efforts that were, at best, of ambiguous moral character even if the soldiers’ personal efforts were valiant. Among others: our war against Mexico for territory; our war against the various Indiana tribes for territory; our war of empire against Spain premised on sketchy evidence about destruction of the Maine; our efforts in World War I where neither side seemed especially virtuous; any number of skirmishes in Central America that primarily benefited the United Fruit Company; and, of course, Viet Nam. (I didn’t forget the Korean War, but I’m not entirely certain which side of the ledger to put it on.)
So, thank you to all of the soldiers who have died in service to this great country of ours. Our country would not be what it is today without them. It is up to us as citizens to see that that willingness to serve and sacrifice is used wisely in the future.
A big thank you to all the soldiers that gave the ultimate sacrafice for peace in our courtry.