May 25, 2015
The last few days have been an interesting juxtaposition on TV and the internet of all the Memorial Day celebrations we enjoy: car sales, cookouts and days off from work or school side-by-side with war movies and parades reminding us of how those goings-on were made possible.
A few days ago, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division – “The Old Guard” – placed flags on over 267,000 graves and niches of soldiers interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Two hundred sixty-seven thousand: a number that doesn’t include the fallen who are buried in the other 130 National Cemeteries, or in their home towns…and that’s just the United States. Soldiers from the Revolutionary War, Afghanistan and all our wars in between are at Arlington. Six hundred and twenty-four acres of gravesites… just at this one cemetery.
We know Memorial day is more than our “kick-off” to summer fun; we do respect and remember what it’s all about. And won’t it be nice to look back, many years from now, and see this day as a transition…a memorial to a learning period…when our soldiers fell teaching us that war isn’t the way to peace.
Maybe it’s time to decide what the real “right side of history” is, and look at our priorities – balancing budgets between Defense (fighting wars), State (preventing wars) and Veterans Administration (repairing the wounds of wars).
Perhaps the day will come when we celebrate Memorial Day as the day we remembered Peace is the way to Peace. For now though, we work through the layers of mixed emotions – gratitude for the present and hope for the future.