I heard an interesting opinion piece on NPR yesterday, suggesting we redirect our memorial day energies from big sales and barbecues back to honoring fallen servicemen.
I've always been a pacifist. I was raised in the Quaker tradition of nonviolence and conscientious objection. I don't like war, and believe it should be avoided if at all possible. I believe we will someday evolve beyond using violence to solve our differences.
Having said all that, I have huge respect for the young men and women who voluntarily join the military and put their lives at risk, and lose their lives in the line of duty. Being against war does not mean being unsupportive of the men and women in uniform, at least in my case. I hold the leaders responsible. I am in awe of what the servicemen and servicewomen are willing to do. And I grieve for those who have lost their lives so young.
On this memorial day, I will thank and honor the fallen and pray for greater wisdom for the rest of us.
This is a poem written by an American soldier and poet Brian Turner, who served for seven years in Bosnia-Hezegovina and Iraq. Mr. Turner reminds us that war has more than one way of taking life.
It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 a.m.,
as tower guards eat sandwiches
and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River.
Prisoners tilt their heads to the west
though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them.
The sound reverberates down concertina coils
the way piano wire thrums when given slack.
And it happens like this, on a blue day of sun,
when Private Miller pulls the trigger
to take brass and fire into his mouth:
the sound lifts the birds up off the water,
a mongoose pauses under the orange trees,
and nothing can stop it now, no matter what
blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices
crackle over the radio in static confusion,
because if only for this moment the earth is stilled,
and Private Miller has found what low hush there is
down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.
PFC B. Miller
(1980-March 22, 2003)
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. It was originally called "Decoration Day" because it was the day the living decorated the graves of those who had died in battle.