Another Memorial Day weekend was approaching and my thoughts turned to blue skies, family picnics, watermelon and burgers, American flags gracing porches and gardens, and a joyful launch of summertime. Again, as in the past, I relished the idea of watching the Memorial Day Concert live from Washington, DC, with its array of performers and story tellers reaching out to the nation at sunset.
But I had forgotten…..this holiday is about war. The concert included tales of bravery, along with images of explosions, downed military planes, smoke, and death. I was in tears as professional actors told the vivid stories of human sacrifice. We all viewed film footage of military families parting, little children broken hearted as their brave parents went off to war. How could I have forgotten?
More questions flooded my thoughts. What is the point? Has war ever accomplished anything good for mankind? Is it not possible for courageous men and women to put their talent into peacemaking instead of war strategies? Who wins a war anyway? There is certainly lots of loss.
And then the tough reality….so many lives have been offered over the years to defend our nation on foreign soil and now we find ourselves in the midst of a great domestic divide that is punctuated by gun violence, racial conflict, and elected leaders who vote purely in their self-interest.
I’d rather think about the first sweet watermelon of the summer and the happy family gathering at my table. But the paradox is compelling on this traditional holiday. And the image of the sun setting over our beautiful capital city during the annual concert is downright frightening.
Knowing that awareness is the first step in recovery, may we acknowledge the challenges of today and work together with fellow-Americans of diverse viewpoints for the common good. We owe it to those many fine, brave men and women who gave their lives for our values—those whom we honor today!