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.
According to Arlingtoncemetery.mil, this year the soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division – “The Old Guard” – will participate in a tradition known as “Flags In” where they place U.S. flags on over 240,000 graves and in niches of soldiers interred at Arlington National Cemetery and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. 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 can add to that number the fallen who are buried in the other 130 National Cemeteries or in home towns, and the more than 218,000 buried or memorialized overseas, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC.gov).
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 to remember war isn’t the way to Peace; only Peace is the way to Peace.
For now though, we work through the juxtaposition, commemoration and reflection. Gratitude for the present, hope and intention for the future.